November 30, 2023
PwC Australia gave confidential tax information to clients other than Google

PwC Australia provided confidential information leaked from Australian government tax briefings to several clients, the company said on Wednesday, the first admission that clients other than Google received leaked government tax plans. PwC Australia said on Wednesday that in 2015 a former partner at the “Big Four” firm passed confidential information to two clients about the start date of new tax legislation targeting multinationals. “If you have a moment, we can talk about several other updates,” the former partner wrote in an email to an unnamed multinational client.

In July Reuters revealed that one of PwC Australia’s clients with whom confidential information was shared was Google, but the company declined to name any clients in the report, citing confidentiality. The firm says customers were not told that the information was confidential. These revelations are part of a “statement of facts” published by the firm in response to a national scandal, which was first triggered by the revelation that a former partner leaked confidential tax documents to colleagues in order to increase work with global firms .

However, the 17-page document reveals a series of previously unreported leaks from other partners, many of whom are unidentified, from government consultations on topics including the taxation of digital currencies and the “black economy.”

In 2017, a former partner leaked a confidential Treasury paper on the tax tools of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development to colleagues and an unnamed client.

First disclosed by tax regulators in January and since a drip-feed of new information, the scam has forced 12 partners, including the chief executive, to wind down relationships with public and private sector clients. And has entangled customers other than Google, including Uber. And Facebook.

no questions raised

Confidential information was also shared with PwC employees outside Australia, as shown in a cache of 144 pages of PwC emails released publicly in May, including a 2016 mail that described the purposes of large US technology firms. There was mention of a “North American project”.

On Wednesday, the global PwC network published a brief statement saying that a review by law firm Linklaters found that no employees outside Australia used any confidential information for commercial gain and that no employees outside Australia Most employees did not know that the information provided was confidential.

However, six individuals, who were not named and whose roles were not given, “should have raised questions” about whether the information was confidential.

PwC said it had taken “appropriate action” against those individuals “to the extent that they are still with the company”, without elaborating.

Radical change in governance system

The statement of facts was released on Wednesday to coincide with the announcement of a major governance overhaul at PwC Australia after an external review found its “do whatever it takes” approach to make money led to concerns about abuse for staff. Made it hard to tell.

A governance review launched by the firm in May identified poor practices “that went uncorrected over many years”, including a board full of long-time PwC partners and a powerful CEO “not held accountable to the board”. Is.

The review also found that the partnership’s “highly collegial” culture made staff reluctant to report abuse, particularly from “rainmakers”, who were described as “untouchable” over whom ” The rules don’t always apply”.

A staff member in a 2021 survey included in the review was quoted as saying, “The AU partnership is largely driven by a profit-seeking approach, sometimes at the expense of ethics and doing what is right. I do not believe that This aligns with our values.”

PwC Australia said on Wednesday it would adopt, and in some cases already has, the report’s 23 recommendations, including the appointment of an external chief risk officer, improving firm culture and linking partner pay to ethical behaviour.


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