Joe Biden should follow the UK in banning global management consultancy Bain & Company from future government contracts, Labor peer Peter Hain has said.
In a letter shared with the Guardian, the former cabinet minister and anti-apartheid campaigner urged the US president to “act on this issue and set a clear precedent that will signal to all American businesses, consultants, lawyers, auditors and financial advisers that collusion with corrupt politicians and their business cronies in other countries will not be tolerated”.
Last month, Bain was banned from bidding on UK government contracts for three years for his “gross misconduct” in state corruption in South Africa. Britain became the first Western country to take this step, after pressure from Lord Hain.
In January, the Guardian revealed that the Labor peer had called on Boris Johnson’s government to penalize Boston, Massachusetts-based Bain for his “despicable” role in South Africa’s biggest post-apartheid corruption scandal.
In his letter to Biden, Hain wrote, “I urge the U.S. government to similarly institute a ban on Bain working for any public sector organization in your country, at least until the current legal process concerning Bain’s nefarious role in South Africa has run its full course.”
He sent a copy of the document to Ron Kind, chairman of the Anglo-American parliamentary group in the United States House of Representatives.
The UK government’s decision came after the findings of two independent judicial commissions of inquiry in South Africa, namely the Nugent commission in 2018 and the Zondo commission, which ended this year, chaired by Justice Robert Nugent respectively. and Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
The Zondo commission concluded in January that there had been “collusion” between the consultancy and former South African President Jacob Zuma to reshape whole swaths of the economy.
The commission found that between 2012 and 2015, Bain helped develop plans to “seize and restructure” the South African Revenue Service (Sars) and centralize procurement procedures – changes that the report said would facilitate Corruption.
Hain said in his letter, “Bain’s U.S.-based global managing partner, Manny Maceda, downplays his company’s actions in Sars as ‘mistakes.’ But it contemptuously downplays the immense social and economic damage that Bain’s behavior has done to ordinary South Africans already suffering from crippling inequality and poverty under apartheid, as well as industrial-scale looting and cronyism in during the Zuma decade in which Bain was an accomplice.
Bain said last month he was “disappointed and surprised” by the Cabinet Office’s decision. “Bain has apologized for the errors made by our South African office in its work with the South African Revenue Service and we have reimbursed all costs of the work, with interest, in 2018. Bain South Africa has not not acted illegally in Sars or elsewhere and no evidence to the contrary has been advanced,” he said.