According to PwC Australia, a former partner at the “big four” firm gave two clients sensitive knowledge regarding the commencement date of a new tax law targeting multinational corporations in 2015.
“Various other updates we can chat about if you get a moment,” the former partner wrote in an email to an unnamed international client.
Reuters discovered in July that Google was one of the companies with which PwC Australia provided confidential information, but the company declined to name any clients in the report, citing confidentiality. According to the firm, clients were not informed that the information was confidential.
The allegations are contained in a “statement of facts” issued by the firm in reaction to a national controversy sparked by the discovery that a former partner had disclosed confidential tax documents to colleagues in order to secure work with major corporations.
The 17-page document, on the other hand, includes a number of previously unreported disclosures by other partners, many of whom remain nameless, from government consultations on themes such as digital currency taxation and the “black economy.”
In 2017, a former partner released a sensitive Treasury report on an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development tax instrument to colleagues and an unnamed client.
The crisis, which was first reported in January by tax officials and has since been fueled by a steady trickle of new information, has forced the departure of 12 partners, including the CEO, prompted public and private sector clients to freeze connections, and embroiled companies other than Google, including Uber and Facebook.
OVERHAUL OF GOVERNANCE
The statement of facts was released in conjunction with PwC Australia’s announcement on Wednesday of a substantial governance transformation following an external assessment that concluded a “whatever it takes” mentality to make money made it more difficult for employees to report wrongdoing.
The firm commissioned the governance assessment in May, and it found problematic practices that had gone “uncorrected for many years,” such as a board packed with senior PwC partners and a powerful CEO who was “not perceived to be accountable to the board.”
The assessment also discovered that the partnership’s “overly collegial” culture made personnel hesitant to call out misbehavior, particularly from “rainmakers” who were defined as “untouchables” to whom “the rules don’t always apply.”
“The AU partnership operates largely from a profit seeking perspective, sometimes at the expense of ethics and doing what’s right. I do not believe this aligns with our values,” a staff member is cited as stating in the review’s 2021 poll.