- Former Bain & Co partner Athol Williams told the State Capture Commission the only thing he is disgruntled about is corruption at SA’s public institutions, including SARS.
- This after former SARS commissioner Tom Moyane described Williams as a “disgruntled former employee” who tried to frame his employer.
- Williams has been testifying at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture about the goings on between Bain and SARS during the state capture project.
Athol Williams, a former Bain & Co South Africa partner, who on Wednesday testified before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, hit back at former South African Revenue Services (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane, who earlier said that Williams was a “disgruntled employee” who tried to implicate his former employer in alleged wrongdoing.
In an affidavit he submitted to the commission this month, Moyane said he had never met Williams, but described him as a “self-styled whistleblower and a determined and disgruntled former employee of Bain”.
Williams appeared before the commission for a second time this week to give his testimony on what happened at SARS after he was appointed by Bain in 2018 to clean up the company’s image. This follows a finding by the Nugent Commission’s that Bain had conspired with Moyane to weaken SARS during the state capture project.
Williams pointed out that it was interesting that Moyane had such a clear description of him, despite never having met him, but he agreed that he was disgruntled – albeit for different reasons.
“I’m inclined to agree with Mr Moyane that I’m disgruntled because I’m angry and dissatisfied about the corruption in our country; I’m dissatisfied and angry about what happened at SARS,” he said.
The former Bain partner added that he was also angry and dissatisfied about Bain’s involvement and its role in cover-ups.
‘All of SA is disgruntled’
“So, yes, I’m disgruntled, it might not be for the reasons he thinks I’m disgruntled; in fact, I think all of South Africa is disgruntled, angry and dissatisfied with what has been happening in our public institutions,” Williams said.
In his affidavit, Moyane also said that it is not clear how Williams’ allegations translate into his involvement or knowledge of state capture or the capture of SARS. To this, Williams responded that he doesn’t know enough to determine what is lawful or unlawful, but he had a sense of what was improper, unethical and unbecoming of a leader of a public institution.
“If the evidence I’ve seen is correct, Mr Moyane planned, with Bain, to enter SARS, [and] to cause damage at SARS … I do think that’s improper and unethical,” responded Williams.
Williams earlier told the commission that he was not provided with the report of a Baker McKenzie investigation into Bain’s work in South Africa’s state-owned companies. He added that Bain had drafted a request for proposals for work on the revenue collector’s operating model, meaning that it had it had drafted its “own rules of the game”.
At the beginning of the proceedings, chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo denied Bain’s request for permission to share an affidavit detailing its version of events to the public, in response to Williams’ allegations.
He said Bain could have applied for leave to testify before the commission and, if it had done so, it would have been possible for it to include its own witnesses this week. They, in turn, could then have testified after Williams and given their own version of what happened with SARS.
Any unfairness Bain believes will come out of it not being able to publish its affidavit while Williams is testifying will have no merit because its version will be known publicly when the inquiry questions Williams on it.
“Also, if there is any unfairness, it seems to me to flow from Bains’ own failure to apply for leave to adduce evidence because if it had done so and it had sought to make sure that its witness gave evidence as soon as possible after Mr Williams had given evidence, that would well have been arranged,” said Zondo.
Williams’ testimony continued on Wednesday afternoon.