Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

Embattled international consultancy Bain has withdrawn its voluntary participation at the Sars commission of inquiry. This is after damning allegations of collusion between Bain partner Vittorio Massone and suspended Sars commissioner Tom Moyane ahead of the company securing a R164m contract at the tax agency to restructure its operating model. 

Bain's withdrawal was confirmed by chair of the Sars commission of inquiry, retired judge Robert Nugent, on Wednesday. Nugent said that the many questions around Bain's role in the destruction of Sars would remain unanswered after the company indicated that it was no longer participating in the inquiry process.

In response to questions, Bain said it was also no longer commenting on its work at Sars and it was allowing its internal investigation by Baker McKenzie and the Nugent inquiry to conclude. 

"If [Baker McKenzie] find evidence of illegal or unethical behaviour, we will deal with it appropriately. We remain committed to the country and doing what is right," Bain said. 

Business Day understands that the implication of Bain's withdrawal is that the large amount of evidence of the damage it had done at Sars and over the illegal contract it received would stand uncontested. This is set to have dire consequences for the company once the commission tables its final report and findings are made over its role. 

The revelations during the last round of public hearings at the inquiry indicated that Massone had been a personal consultant to Moyane for more than a year before the embattled tax boss was even appointed commissioner.

In an affidavit, Massone admitted that he worked with Moyane to help him realise his ambition of becoming Sars commissioner. He also provided Moyane with a plan to overhaul the Sars operating model in a document titled “Sars 2.0” months before Moyane even set foot in the tax agency and before his appointment by former president Jacob Zuma was announced. 

Evidence from the Treasury indicated that the Bain contract was irregular and “littered with red flags”.

Massone did not arrive for the last round of public hearings — he was said to have been ill and had returned to his home country, Italy, for treatment. Nugent had subsequently written to Bain to ask whether the company would send another representative to the inquiry. It indicated that it would not. 

The irregular Bain contract came under further scrutiny on Wednesday when Sars chief officer for procurement Johnstone Makhubu said he was appalled at the manner in which the Bain deal was handled.

He said Moyane was required by law to declare his relationship with Massone and Bain but he never did.

MarrianN@Businesslive.co.za