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The South African branch of McKinsey & Company, the global consulting firm, was charged in a corruption scandal involving work the company completed advising the country’s state-owned freight rail and port operator. It may be the first time in McKinsey’s 96-year history that the firm has faced criminal charges.

South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority added McKinsey and one of its former top consultants in the country to a long list of defendants in a case involving a locomotive purchase contract for the state-owned operator, Transnet, the authority said in a statement on Friday. McKinsey oversaw work on the bid, which, at the time it was announced in 2012, was the country’s largest-ever public procurement.

The other defendants, including the former chief executive of Transnet, are facing charges including fraud, corruption and money laundering. It was not clear from the statement what specific charges McKinsey and its former senior partner, Vikas Sagar, would face. A spokesperson for the authority was not available to comment.

“We believe the charges filed against our South Africa office are meritless and we will defend against them,” a spokesman for McKinsey said in a statement…

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