Ernst & Young worker death: Investigators revise time the woman returned to her office building

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The mystery of what happened before an EY employee plummeted to her death from the balcony of her Sydney office has deepened – as investigators receive more information about when she left work and returned to the building.

Initial reports indicated the 33-year-old worker attended a function at the CBD’s Ivy nightclub from 5.30pm to 7.30pm on Friday before making the short walk back to the accountancy firm, where she was found dead about 12.30am.¬†¬†

However, Daily Mail Australia understands investigators have since determined the woman actually left her office building at 7.30pm and may not have returned until about 20minutes before the incident. 

Police have determined the woman used her security swipe card to access a secure patio on the building’s upper floors.¬†

The revised timeline has raised questions about what, if anything, occurred during the woman’s final five hours, and how long she spent at the bar.

A woman was found dead at Ernst & Young's Sydney headquarters (pictured) early on Saturday morning after leaving a work event

A woman was found dead at Ernst & Young’s Sydney headquarters (pictured) early on Saturday morning after leaving a work event¬†

1661852462 760 EY Ernst and Young Sydney office womans death George Street

1661852462 760 EY Ernst and Young Sydney office womans death George Street

A detective and uniformed police officer were seen speaking to a woman in the reception of the building on Tuesday morning 

TIMELINE CHANGES IN EY EMPLOYEE’S FINAL HOURS

 BEFORE:

*Initial reports suggested the woman attended a work function between 5.30pm-7.30pm on Friday

*She was then believed to have returned to the office around 7.30pm until she was found dead about 12.30am

 AFTER:

*Investigations have determined she actually left the office at 7.30pm 

*It is now unclear what time she was at the ivy nightclub or how long she spent there 

The development comes after it was revealed the woman’s husband had been flying from Singapore to Australia at the time she fell to her death.¬†

He only learned of his wife’s fate after touching down at Sydney Airport – at the same time her tragic death was also sending shockwaves through the corporate accounting world.¬†

Just after midnight on Saturday, a construction worker and his colleague working on a site next to the George Street headquarters heard a crash as the woman fell on to the awning above the front entrance of the building.

Security guards inside the premises are understood to have raised the alarm, with police and paramedics rushing to the area and closing off the scene. 

The construction worker said he was shocked to learn details of the incident from the first responders.

‘There was a big blue tarpaulin over her… it’s awful and so tragic,’ he said.¬†

‘We were pretty shocked. We had no idea. It’s terrible, the poor woman.’

Accountancy and consulting firm EY have emailed staff offering ongoing support after the death of their young colleague.

It’s understood the woman was a foreign national who has spent approximately six months working for the company.¬†

Police have determined the woman used her security swipe card to access a secure patio on the building's upper floors (a balcony at the Ernst & Young building is pictured)

Police have determined the woman used her security swipe card to access a secure patio on the building's upper floors (a balcony at the Ernst & Young building is pictured)

Police have determined the woman used her security swipe card to access a secure patio on the building’s upper floors (a balcony at the Ernst & Young building is pictured)

It is understood the woman was foreign national who has been spent approximately six months working for EY. Pictured: Inside the office of Ernst & Young

It is understood the woman was foreign national who has been spent approximately six months working for EY. Pictured: Inside the office of Ernst & Young

It is understood the woman was foreign national who has been spent approximately six months working for EY. Pictured: Inside the office of Ernst & Young

Investigations have determined the woman left the Ernst and Young's central Sydney office (pictured) at about 7.30pm

Investigations have determined the woman left the Ernst and Young's central Sydney office (pictured) at about 7.30pm

Investigations have determined the woman left the Ernst and Young’s central Sydney office (pictured) at about 7.30pm

The tragedy has shocked the Sydney’s accounting industry, which is now in the middle of peak auditing season where some of country’s brightest number-crunchers scramble to meet deadlines for high-powered clients.¬†

READ THE EY EMAIL TO STAFF

It is with great sadness that I’m sharing the news that one of our team members died at the EY building in Sydney over the weekend.

While the police investigation is ongoing, we have been informed that there were no suspicious circumstances.

We have been in touch with the family of the person involved to offer our condolences and ongoing support.

This loss of a colleague is deeply saddening, I want to assure all of you that we will continue to provide support in as many ways that we can. This includes our EAP service which is available to all EY employees and their families.

As a result of this tragedy, we are conducting a comprehensive and wide-ranging internal review that will include health and safety, security and social events. Jono Nicholas, our Chief Mental Health Advisor will play an important role in helping guide and advise us as we move forward.

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting the work culture at EY contributed to the tragic circumstances, and the woman’s position at the firm and personal circumstances are unknown.

Staff at EY were emailed by a member of management on Monday who told them: ‘It is with great sadness I am sharing the news that one of our team members died at the EY building in Sydney over the weekend’.

‘While the police investigation is ongoing we have been informed that there were no suspicious circumstances,’ the email added.

‘We have been in touch with the family of the person to offer our condolences and ongoing support.’

The email said the company would¬† launch a ‘comprehensive and wide-ranging internal review’ of its health and safety, security and social policies in the wake of the tragedy.

A group of EY workers told Daily Mail Australia that employees had been offered counselling. 

A uniformed NSW Police officer and a detective were at the scene on Tuesday morning to meet with senior bosses. 

‘This the worst case scenario so management is doing everything they can,’ one staff member said.¬†

‘We’ve never known anything like this. It’s appalling … it’s so gruesome.’

The employees, who didn’t know the woman, said the company is made up of multiple teams, each consisting of around 30 to 40 people.¬†

‘The ‘work hard, play hard’ (culture) depends on your team,’ they said. ‘Some are like that, others are not.’

Police are not treating the death as ‘suspicious’ and investigations are still under way to determine what happened after she had her last drink.¬†

Police have been scouring CCTV footage from nearby cameras (pictured) to piece together the woman's final moments

Police have been scouring CCTV footage from nearby cameras (pictured) to piece together the woman's final moments

Police have been scouring CCTV footage from nearby cameras (pictured) to piece together the woman’s final moments¬†

It has been alleged she was escorted from the venue by staff due to excessive consumption of alcohol, The Australian reported.

But CCTV footage seen by investigators once she returned to 200 George Street in Circular Quay, overlooking Sydney Harbour, did not suggest she was noticeably intoxicated.

Temporary repairs have been made to an awning damaged during the incident, but blood is yet to be cleaned from the scene

Temporary repairs have been made to an awning damaged during the incident, but blood is yet to be cleaned from the scene

Temporary repairs have been made to an awning damaged during the incident, but blood is yet to be cleaned from the scene 

It also remains unclear if the employee came back to the skyscraper to continue working into the evening or whether she was there for another reason.

Floral tributes were noticeably absent from the scene on Tuesday morning, as myriads of workers streamed in and out of the building. 

A detective and uniformed cop were seen entering the building and waiting in the lobby until a woman arrived to greet them then took the pair upstairs. 

In recent years EY had faced criticism along with the other big accounting firms РKPMG, Deloitte and PWC Рfor its extreme working hours and competitive corporate culture. 

Last year an email from bosses within EY’s Hong Kong financial services team set out their gruelling ‘peak season working protocol and expectations’. It’s not suggested the same edict applies in Australia.¬†

‘Staff must start work by 9.30am and finish no earlier than 11.30pm,’ the email said.

‘I think midnight is common in peak seasons ‚Äď it counts on the discipline and responsibility of yourself.¬†

‘For weekends, I expect at least one day we are spending the whole day (from 10.00am-7.30pm) in office.’

The woman who was found dead at  Ernst and Young's central Sydney office had spent time earlier in the evening at glitzy Sydney watering hole the Ivy nightclub (pictured)

The woman who was found dead at  Ernst and Young's central Sydney office had spent time earlier in the evening at glitzy Sydney watering hole the Ivy nightclub (pictured)

The woman who was found dead at¬†¬†Ernst and Young’s central Sydney office had spent time earlier in the evening at glitzy Sydney watering hole the Ivy nightclub (pictured)

The firm’s management are now set to conduct¬†a ‘comprehensive and wide-ranging internal review encompassing health and safety, security, social events as they relate to our staff’.¬†

EY CEO and Regional Managing Partner David Larocca said the company’s employees were receiving counselling over the tragedy.

‘Our Chief Mental Health Officer will be part of an ongoing review and has been instrumental over the weekend in providing ongoing advice and guidance,’ he said.

‘Counselling has been offered to all staff and team members.’

EY is also assisting police with their ongoing investigation as a report is being prepared for the Coroner.

‘Our hearts go out the family and we have been in contact to offer our support and condolences,’ Mr Larocca said.

In 2019, a parliamentary enquiry heard how young staffers ‘carried the can’ as workers ‘burned the midnight oil’ at senior consulting firms.

Auditors often work 12 hour days, and even longer when it’s peak season.¬†

For confidential 24-hour support in Australia call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Who are Ernst & Young?

Ernst & Young is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious accounting and¬†consultancy firms with about¬†600 offices worldwide.

Now known as EY, the firm provides audits for some of the globe’s largest companies and consults with governments on corporate risk, technology and human resource services.¬†

Headquartered in the UK, the firm is worth well over US$40billion. 

International clients include Hewlett Packard computers, US telecoms giant AT&T, Coca Cola, General Motors, Hilton hotels and Lockheed Martin.

Australian clients of EY include retail giant Wesfarmers, Telstra as well as energy and minerals giants Newcrest Mining and Woodside Petroleum, along with various government departments.

The period after the financial year ends on June 30 and is considered one of the peak times where major companies will require audits.

Those working within the highly competitive corporate environment during this time are know to put in long hours.