Statement by Lavery Modise, Chairman of Hogan Lovells, South Africa

In recent weeks, our firm has been attacked by Lord Hain and Paul O'Sullivan. They accuse us of facilitating state capture and white-washing corruption at SARS because we represented SARS in a disciplinary enquiry that did not result in the dismissal of the relevant employee, Mr Jonas Makwakwa.

Both have made lots of accusations and demands. Despite their continued claims, neither has presented anything resembling real evidence in their letters or statements to the House of Lords or the press. They should be continually challenged to produce it. If there is none, Lord Hain and Mr O'Sullivan should apologise to us and immediately stop their sensationalist statements.

We wish to state categorically that:

  1.  We did not selectively limit or ignore a part of our labour law mandate or abuse legal processes to achieve a pre-determined outcome. The scope of our mandate was to investigate employee-related (rather than criminal or tax evasion) allegations. 
  2. The report that our firm produced did not exonerate Mr Makwakwa relating to criminal or tax evasion allegations and any statement to the contrary by anyone is false. On the contrary, it recommended the institution of disciplinary proceedings specifically for non-disclosure of external business interests to his employer and the contravention of his suspension conditions. Any reliance on a contrary statement is simply unfounded.  
  3. The disciplinary proceedings had to occur within the maximum timelines permitted by South African labour law. 
  4. We advised SARS that should the outcome of their investigation reveal a contravention by Mr Jonas Makwakwa of tax legislation or the commission of a tax offence or crime, this would constitute misconduct on his part.  
  5. We have produced all the evidence that was lawfully available to us and admissible. 
  6. We did not earn fat fees from this mandate. We charged discounted rates in accordance with a prescribed panel-tariff.  

We have encouraged (and continue to encourage) SARS to waive their legal privilege in relation to this matter. 

We are entirely open and would welcome any look at our work by the appropriate authorities in South Africa.

I am a South African, leading a South African law firm that has been in operation for over a century. Our people and our community are South Africans. We stand fully behind the values and rights of our Constitution and the Rule of Law. This means listening to the evidence, adhering to attorney-client confidentiality, decent representation, judicial and attorney independence, and following due process.

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