Embattled PwC Australia Sees More Partners Leave After Tax Scandal

Eight partners have left or are in the process of leaving PwC Australia over governance breaches related to the tax scandal that’s embroiled the consultancy giant.

(Bloomberg) — Eight partners have left or are in the process of leaving PwC Australia over governance breaches related to the tax scandal that’s embroiled the consultancy giant. 

PwC’s investigation into the handling of confidential Australian government tax information and past failures in professional, ethical or leadership responsibilities identified a number of examples where standards were breached, according to a statement Monday. Poor behavior was able to persist with no accountability, it said.

“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,” Acting CEO Kristin Stubbins said in the statement. “They are now being held accountable for their misconduct.”

Peter Konidaris and Eddy Moussa have exited the PwC partnership due to actions failing to meet professional standards, the statement said. Richard Gregg, for similar reasons, has been given notice of the firm’s findings against him and a process to be removed from the partnership has started, it said.

Meantime, Pete Calleja and Sean Gregory have exited the partnership due to a failure to adequately exercise their expected leadership or governance responsibilities, according to the statement. Peter van Dongen, Wayne Plummer and Tom Seymour, for similar reasons, were given notice of findings against them, it said. Seymour’s recommended exit is earlier than his previously announced retirement date.

The departures are in addition to four former partners — Michael Bersten, Peter Collins, Neil Fuller, and Paul McNab — who were previously named as being involved in confidentiality breaches, the statement said. 

It’s the latest development in the saga that’s forced the firm to jettison assets after revelations a former senior partner obtained confidential tax policy information while advising the government and passed the knowledge on to others in the firm which was used to advise global clients. The firm last month said Kevin Burrowes will move from Singapore to Sydney to take on a new role as CEO of PwC Australia as it proceeds to sell the government consultancy business at the heart of the scandal for A$1 to a private equity firm. 

Investigations underway into PwC’s handling of confidential information include a police inquiry and an internal review conducted by former telco executive Ziggy Switkowski. On Sunday, Greens Senator Barbara Pocock announced she had referred the PwC matter to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which only opened its doors one day earlier. 

Anyone can refer a matter to the anti-corruption commission and the body can choose independently whether or not to investigate any potential leads.

Konidaris, Moussa, Calleja, Gregory, van Dongen, Plummer and Seymour didn’t respond to requests for comment on Monday. Gregg couldn’t immediately be contacted for comment.

–With assistance from Ben Westcott.

(Adds detail in eighth paragraph on anti-corruption body investigation)

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