PwC has suspended nine of its partners in a bid to contain a tax leak scandal involving its Australian operations and has promised to release the results of an internal investigation later this year.
The company has come under intense public scrutiny after an email was released showing it used confidential government information about tax law changes to win new business.
The move to suspend nine partners, including executive officers and members of the governance committee, is the latest extension of a scandal that erupted in February. PwC It said it would work more closely with the Australian Commonwealth Government to minimize conflicts of interest.
PwC staff have been told to “take leave immediately.” . . “We are waiting for the results of the investigation,” the company said.
Former PwC head of international tax Peter Collins said this year: Prohibited by the Australian Tax Oversight Authority For sharing classified information with a colleague about the government’s tax avoidance reform plan. The email showed how PwC used confidential information to win new business.
The publication of redacted emails between Collins and other PwC partners in Australia and abroad has created a global crisis for the company. Tom Seymour, Head of PwC Australia quit this monthMeanwhile, the Australian Treasury has referred the situation to the Federal Police for consideration of a criminal investigation.
PwC Australia’s acting chief executive Christine Stubbins issued an apology on Monday in an open letter. “On behalf of PwC Australia, we apologize for betraying the trust placed in us by sharing confidential information about government tax policy,” Stubbins said. “No amount of words can make it right.”
Stubbins said the leak highlighted “failures in leadership and governance” in Australia and what she called a “culture of aggressive marketing in the tax business”.
PwC Australia’s Governance Committee Chair Tracy Kennea and Risk Committee Chair Paddy Carney have resigned.
Stubbins said the company will release the results of an internal investigation conducted by former telecom executive Ziggy Siwitkowski at the end of September.
PwC has not released the names of the partners included in the emails, nor the names of clients who may have benefited from advice tailored on the basis of confidential information. The senator tried unsuccessfully to force his name out at a public hearing last week.
The ruling Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill, who triggered the release of the redacted email, said the scandal raised questions for the entire consulting industry. “The epidemic is real,” O’Neill said. “People who put money before integrity had a hard time.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told 2SM radio station on Monday that the scandal was a “terrible indictment” against the industry and that any government should consider “the ethical considerations arising from this PwC action”. .
Stubbins called the scandal “personally and professionally devastating.” However, she tried to keep a certain distance from her customers.
“Our clients have not been involved in any fraudulent activity and their confidential information has never been used to reduce their taxes,” she said.
Collins has not responded to a request for comment since the scandal broke.