Eight partners fired after PwC Australian leak scandal
PwC Australia fires eight partners – including former chief exec – following internal investigation into leak scandal
PwC’s embattled Australian firm has fired eight partners, including its former CEO, following an internal investigation into a leak of confidential government tax plans by a former partner.
The investigation found that ‘misuse of confidential information’ violated professional standards.
It also identified “a failure of leadership and governance” to address the breaches, PwC said in a statement.
The professional services group is in crisis in Australia after leaked emails revealed it had used information about tax policy changes it obtained in confidence from the government to try to win new business from corporate clients.
The Australian Treasury Department referred the matter to the police in May.
Fired: PWC is in crisis in Australia after leaked emails revealed it used information it obtained in confidence from the government to try to win new clients
The Reserve Bank of Australia, several government departments and the country’s three largest pension funds have frozen or reviewed ties with PwC.
The layoffs are the latest attempt to limit the damage the scandal has done to the company.
It started after a former partner, Peter Collins, who had advised the Australian government on new tax laws aimed at corporate tax avoidance, shared confidential drafts with colleagues, which were used to drum up business around the world.
Collins, the former head of international taxation for PwC Australia, was part of a trusted group of outside tax experts who helped the Australian government draft the 2016 Multinational Anti-Tax Avoidance Act.
He had signed strict confidentiality agreements with the Australian Treasury.
However, emails revealed that Collins had shared secret government documents, decisions and plans for the new tax laws with colleagues.
He has since been deregistered as a tax advisor by the Tax Authorities and is being investigated by the police.
Kristin Stubbins, Acting CEO of PwC Australia, said: “Accountability is critical to improving our culture and from our research to date it is clear that the conduct of a number of partners has fallen short of what was expected of them .
They are now held responsible for their misconduct.’
Tom Seymour, who stepped down as CEO of PwC Australia in May, is one of eight who have left or are about to leave.
He admitted that he had received emails containing confidential information about the government’s tax plans. The eight have not responded.