Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Bain was ‘concerned’ about Massone’s ethics, ex-partner tells Zondo

Athol Williams says Bain SA had questioned former managing partner Vittorio Massone's ethics and leadership following his arrival in 2010.

Former Bain & Company partner Athol Williams told the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture that former managing partner Vittorio Massone’s ethics and leadership were in question nearly the moment he arrived at the company.

Williams appeared before Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to deliver his testimony on matters relating to the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

Williams said he first joined Bain in 1995 as an intern while studying in the US until he left in 2019, at which time he was a partner at the global management consulting firm’s offices in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Williams told the commission that senior management had questioned former managing partner Vittorio Massone’s ethics and leadership following his arrival at the South African offices in 2010.

“Chair, very early in 2010 after Mr Massone arrived…in fact myself and some other senior people in the office began to be concerned about how the way Mr Massone was behaving towards clients and the way he was interacting with other people.

ALSO READ: Massive failure of integrity, governance at Moyane’s Sars – Nugent report

“[We were] concerned enough that we contacted the London office. The South African office at that point reported to the London office.

“We were so concerned that this person, Mr Massone, was the appropriate person to lead this business based on his behaviour. So we contacted the London office to ask them to come and investigate what was happening in South Africa,” he said.

Massone, who testified at the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into tax administration and governance at Sars, had been called to explain why Bain provided such patently poor management advice to the revenue service.

He was reported to have conducted meetings with former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane in order to help him secure the contract.

Williams said he was shocked, but not surprised by Massone’s statements to the Nugent commission.

“I was shocked to hear Mr Massone’s evidence, chair. In a way given my concerns back in 2010 already….hearing the allegations against Bain and hearing Mr Massone’s evidence didn’t surprise me in a way….in fact it was my worst fears coming true because I suspected that he probably wasn’t going to be an ethical leader.

READ MORE: Bain blames change of leadership for problems at Sars

“I left the business and wasn’t part of the business, but here eight years later I saw a manifestation or heard a manifestation of my earliest concerns,” he said.

In 2014 Bain conducted a diagnostic for Sars and the company was said to have been paid R164 million for its attempts at restructuring the revenue service’s operations during Moyane’s tenure.

Moyane was appointed in September 2014 and eventually fired by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 1 November 2018.

Watch the proceedings below, courtesy of the SABC:

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South African Revenue Service (SARS)

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