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PwC Australia’s former CEO among eight partners removed following tax leak scandal

PwC in early June disclosed to a parliamentary committee the names of four former partners it alleged were responsible for confidentiality breaches

PwC Australia’s former chief executive is among eight senior personnel named and removed from the firm’s partnership in the fallout of the tax leaks scandal, although he is not accused of misusing government information.

The embattled consultancy firm said on Monday the action was a result of its investigation into the handling of confidential government information.

“The investigation identified a number of specific examples where professional standards were breached with respect to misuse of confidential information or other matters reviewed by the ATO [tax office],” PwC Australia said in a statement.

“Accountability is critical to improving our culture and based on our investigation to date, it is clear that the conduct of a number of partners fell short of what was expected of them.

“They are now being held accountable.”

Twelve partners have now been forced out as a result of the scandal. Some are accused by PwC of misusing classified information, while it is alleged others did not properly exercise their expected leadership or governance responsibilities.

PwC in early June disclosed to a parliamentary committee the names of four former partners it alleged were responsible for confidentiality breaches.

The firm’s involvement in the tax leaks scandal is one of the first issues to be referred to the new national anti-corruption commission, which can compel witnesses to answer questions.

The Greens senator Barbara Pocock, who has been probing PwC for months, has said there were still many unanswered questions, including who benefited from the government information wrongly passed around the company.

PwC previously helped the federal government design tougher multinational tax laws. At the same time, it advised overseas firms on their tax arrangements. Federal agencies have expressed concerns about opaque structures making use of tax havens, potentially depriving Australia of revenue.

The issues at PwC’s government consulting arm have spilled into other areas of its business, with major clients including superannuation funds unwilling to work with the group until all issues are resolved.

In order to protect the wider business, PwC will sell its federal and state government advisory unit to private equity investor Allegro Funds for just US US $1.

PwC said on Monday its investigation identified a failure of leadership and governance.

“This enabled poor behaviours to persist with no accountability,” PwC said.

“These behaviours are not, and never have been, acceptable under PwC’s standards.”


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