SYDNEY: Accounting giant PwC said Monday a raft of Australian senior partners would be forced to leave the company, as it battles to contain the fallout from a damaging tax leak scandal.
PwC Australia has been mired in controversy since January this year when it emerged that staff had leaked information from a confidential government tax briefing in an attempt to drum up new business.
The company, part of the Big Four accounting firms, on Monday named eight partners who had “enabled poor behaviours to persist with no accountability” – including former Australian chief executive Tom Seymour.
“They are now being held accountable for their misconduct,” interim chief executive Kristin Stubbins said, as the firm released the findings from an internal investigation.
A total of 12 PwC partners have now left the company since the leak came to light.
PwC will drastically restructure its Australian arm in an attempt to move on from the scandal, recently announcing plans to sell its lucrative government consultancy business to a private equity firm for A$1 (US$0.67)
According to officials, the company held A$255.2 million (US$167 million) in government contracts last financial year.
Australian police have been investigating the leak since late May, while the parliament’s powerful finance committee is gearing up to grill executives at a series of public hearings.
PwC Australia has previously admitted that it suffered from “poor decision making” and that “aggressive behaviour” in parts of the business allowed “profit to be placed over purpose”.
The Australian government in 2015 introduced a series of new tax rules, designed to stop foreign firms shaving their tax obligations by shifting profits to offshore havens.
A government inquiry earlier this year found that a senior PwC staffer who was briefed on these reforms shared this information with other partners, breaching confidentiality rules.
The firm then used this knowledge to “aggressively market” itself to new customers, the inquiry said.
The leak came to light after a lengthy investigation by the Tax Practitioners Board.