Bain’s Woes in RSA Raises Questions in Parliament

Bain’s Woes in RSA Raises Questions in Parliament

June 22, 2022
Government, Procurement, Suppliers

Last week in a Lords Chamber debate, Lord Peter Hain asked why Bain & Company were still able to bid for multi-million-pound UK contracts “when the company has recently been found by a South African judicial inquiry to be guilty of unlawful complicity in corruption under former President Zuma?”

Hain is referencing the judicial commission’s findings on the management consultancy Bain & Company’s role in alleged corruption in South Africa under the former president Jacob Zuma. A South African judicial commission investigating state capture and corruption concluded there had been “collusion” between Bain and Zuma to reshape entire sectors of the economy.

Lord Hains’ concerns include the failure to disbar Bain & Company from tendering for government contracts, in their near purchase of Liverpool Victoria Financial Services last December and he is seeking an amendment to the Procurement Bill, excluding any company with a record of such illegal behaviour from being awarded UK contracts.

A Guardian article from January outlines the nature of the scope of the allegations against Bain & Company, which includes allegations that “Bain knew in advance that a new South Africa Revenue Service (Sars) chief was due to be appointed and provided him with a “first 100 days” plan to overhaul the service, despite it being “highly rated by independent assessments of efficiency”, and even though internal documents showed “Bain knew it did not have the expertise to perform the work”. A section of the proposals published by the commission included advice to “identify individuals to neutralise” within Sars, which “Bain said, did not mean that opponents of its plans for the revenue service should face any kind of punishment, but that they should be persuaded to be “neutral” towards its proposals.” There were also allegations of large sums of money being offered to silence witnesses in the case.

Zuma refused to cooperate with the inquiry, leading to his imprisonment in July for contempt of court. Bain & Company admitted some ‘lapses of leadership and governance’.

During Chambers, Baroness Smith of Basildon added that the Bain issues expose deficiencies in the Procurement Bill as published. Schedule 6 of the Bill outlines the criteria under which a supplier must be added to the debarment list and cannot be awarded public sector contracts. She drew attention to Schedule 7, which provides wide scope for discretionary disbarment, even on the grounds of national security, and a lack of clarity as to why it is discretionary and what criteria will be deployed in making that judgment. She called for the publishing of additional guidance, which would inform Committee debates, on what considerations will be taken into account where such disbarment is to be discretionary.

In response to these questions from Lord Hain and Baroness Smith, Lord Nicholas True attested that “ I am aware of one live contract that Bain has with an NHS trust, which has a contract value of approximately £2 million.”

Integrating our own government contract database we can be confirmed that no other contracts have been awarded to Bain and Company by the UK Government, since January 2022.

Lord True responded to these issues by advising that the Cabinet Office review into this specific company will conclude within weeks as will discussions on the Procurement Bill. He stated his concerns at suggestions of corruption and misconduct and advised the scope of misconduct in the Bill will be widening.

This issue certainly raises the question of the impact on global or multinational entities bidding for contracts in one market, where they may have legal issues, alleged or proven, in other markets. Whose role is it to monitor, assess and adjudicate whether a business is fit to bid for government contracts? We’ll come back to this issue again.

If you liked to talk to us about our government procurement data, our research capabilities, or our data feed API, please get in touch.

March 21, 2023

AUKUS Defence Procurement Deal

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese joined the US President Joe Biden, and the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in San Diego this...
March 14, 2023

Australian Government Responds to COVID-19 Procurement Review

Many governments around the world have faced pressure regarding their procurement of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, so it is encouraging to see...
March 8, 2023

EU Joint Ammunition Procurement

EU ministers will meet today in Stockholm to decide whether to  jointly procure  ammunition to aid Ukraine and replenish domestic stockpiles. EU...
March 7, 2023

Denial Of Service By Wall Of Text

Clarkesworld Magazine is a publisher of science fiction short stories. They accept and pay for submissions from anyone. As of last week,...
March 1, 2023

Canadian Government Announces Rail Procurement Process

This week, the Canadian Government announced a major step in the procurement process for their High Frequency Rail project: the launch of...
February 28, 2023

Deduplication Routines

Deduplication is a deceptively complex problem to handle at scale. There’s a simple, ugly and brutal way to do it, where you...
February 23, 2023

Policy Proposal: Analysts In Place

Data is critical to the functioning of government. Policies and services live or die on the quality of data. Successes and failures...
February 23, 2023

Hallucination As A Service

I asked Chat-GPT to find me some academic papers that highlight the usefulness of combining two different machine learning techniques. I hoped...
February 20, 2023

Future Trends in Government Procurement

Over the years, government procurement has undergone significant changes, with new trends emerging that are reshaping the way governments buy goods and...
February 15, 2023

Making Your Own Export Platform?

If you are building your own export platform, sourcing, organising and analysing your data has its challenges. Here are some of the...
February 14, 2023

Tackling Modern Slavery in Supply Chains – Guidance

On 26 March 2020, the UK became the first country to publish a Government Modern Slavery Statement, setting out the steps government...
February 8, 2023

Securing The Competitive Edge.

Are you an exporter looking for leads for your exporters? Do you want to help your in-country teams build more partnerships within...
February 7, 2023

The Benefits of Data Tech 101

Government procurement, the process by which government entities purchase goods, services and works from private businesses, is being revolutionised by the integration...
February 1, 2023

EU Awards New Gas Aggregation Contract

In December 2022, EU energy ministers agreed to create a platform for the collective demand aggregation and joint procurement of gas, with...
January 25, 2023

Does Procurement Need Blockchain?

Blockchain is fundamentally a database, but rather than a database where one item is allowed to replace another, each change to the...


Compelling research, insights and data directly into your inbox.

Recent media stories