It’s hard being a giant consulting firm. Since you work with everyone—everyone who can pay, at least—potential conflicts of interest abound, and sometimes get noticed. So when some sweet, sweet non-overlapping business comes your way—say, from a sovereign government—you jump at it, maybe even a little too quickly.
The contract turned out to be illegal, a violation of South African contracting law, with some of the payments channeled to an associate of an Indian-born family, the Guptas, at the center of a swirling corruption scandal…. The Eskom affair is now part of an expansive investigation by South African authorities into how the Guptas used their friendships with Jacob Zuma, then the country’s president, and his son to manipulate and control state-owned enterprises for personal gain. International corruption watchdogs call it a case of “state capture.” Lawmakers here call it a silent coup. It has already led to Mr. Zuma’s ouster and a moment of reckoning for post-apartheid South Africa.
The above comes from a Times exposé last month, and would be bad enough on its own, but for a little paragraph thrown in dealing with some non-Gupta-related matters.
Since President Trump took office, McKinsey has greatly expanded consulting for Immigration and Customs Enforcement through that agency’s office of “detention, compliance and removals.” Their contracts with the agency exceed $20 million. Asked about those contracts, a McKinsey spokesman said the company’s work focused primarily on administration and organization and was unconnected to immigration policy, including the separation of children and parents at the border.
Right. Sure. That makes sense. I mean, what could administration and organization of detention, compliance and removals have to do with the separation of families and caging of children?
Well, either way, McKinsey would just really like to put these things behind them. So they’ve settled with the South Africans, and now they promise not to do anything with any human-rights-violating government agencies, even here at home.
While stating that McKinsey’s work for the agency did not involve carrying out immigration policies, Mr. Sneader wrote that the firm “will not, under any circumstances, engage in any work, anywhere in the world, that advances or assists policies that are at odds with our values.”
A tough, brave decision? As with what, exactly, management consulting services to ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations division, which sure sounds like it might be involved in enforcing U.S. immigration laws by taking crying children from their crying parents and sending them a thousand miles away, that’s not entirely clear.
While Mr. Sneader acknowledged the concerns about McKinsey’s contract, a spokesman said the firm had already finished the job.
At least they aren’t missing out on the fee income this time.