UK lawmaker asks Biden to suspend Bain over South Africa graft

He made the same appeal to the UK’s prime minister.
Image: Shutterstock

A British lawmaker petitioned U.S. President Joe Biden to suspend Bain & Co.’s operating license after a South African judicial commission implicated the global consultancy in misconduct related to work it did for the nation’s tax agency.

Peter Hain said he addressed his request to Biden via the U.S. ambassador in London. He made the same appeal to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“This is a big stain on Bain’s international reputation,” Hain said in a phone interview on Thursday. The company’s officials in South Africa who were working for a corrupt government were answering to executives in London and New York “so there is an international complicity here.”

The U.K. government has said it will ask Bain about the findings by the South African panel headed by Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, which has spent the past four years probing graft during former President Jacob Zuma’s scandal-marred rule.

“The Cabinet Office will shortly be writing to the company and engaging with them to better understand the status of the findings in the report and seek appropriate assurances to the government,” Stephen Barclay, the minister for the office, said in a written response this week to a Jan. 5 letter from Hain.

Bain has denied willfully facilitating or being party to corruption in South Africa. The company didn’t respond to a request for comment sent by email on Thursday.

Barclay assured Hain that Bain is currently not a strategic supplier to the U.K. government or doing any substantial work for it. Hain is a peer for the opposition Labour Party and a former cabinet minister.

A number of other international companies and banks were also complicit in helping launder looted money out of South Africa and needed to be exposed, according to Hain.

“These global corporates have got to feel the pain to stop them from doing this again,” he said. “They are all guilty, it is not just corrupt state officials and politicians.”

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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