Australia's Treasury refers PwC tax scandal to police for probe
The Australian government has referred a PricewaterhouseCoopers tax scandal to the police and asked them to consider a criminal investigation as political scrutiny mounts.
PwC Australia’s former head of international tax, Peter Collins “improperly used confidential Commonwealth information,” according to a statement Wednesday from Steven Kennedy, secretary to the treasury.
The accounting firm’s troubles centre on revelations that Collins had been barred by regulators for leaking government secrets — obtained while he was on a confidential advisory board — to other PwC staff.
Emails dating to 2014-2017, released following demands from Parliament, showed PwC partners using that information to shop tax-planning advice to clients. Those clients haven’t been identified, but are believed to include some of the biggest US tech companies.
In the aftermath of the email release, Chief Executive Officer Tom Seymour and two other top executives stepped down.
A former telecoms executive, Ziggy Switkowski, has been brought in to conduct an independent review “of the firm’s governance, accountability and culture,” PwC has said.
The prospect of reputational risk for the PwC brand has drawn the attention of the entire PwC network, and its US and UK affiliates have said they had joined an internal review, with PWC US calling the leaks “completely unacceptable.”
“In light of these recent revelations and the seriousness of this misconduct, the Treasury has referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police to consider commencement of a criminal investigation,” Kennedy said in the government statement.
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