© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is seen on a board at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum , Russia, June 6, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo
By Lewis Jackson
SYDNEY (Reuters) – PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Australia on Monday named at least 67 current and former staff involved in the leak of confidential government tax plans in an unpublished letter to lawmakers ahead of parliamentary hearings later this week.
PwC, one of the world’s “big four” audit and advisory firms, is battling to contain the fall-out from a scandal in Australia, after a former partner who had been was consulting with the federal government on new tax laws targeting corporate tax avoidance shared confidential drafts with colleagues to drum up business around the world.
A cache of 144 pages of partially redacted emails released in May revealed dozens of staff were working to help multinational companies sidestep a new Australian tax law in concert with PwC firms in the United States, Britain, Singapore and Netherlands.
In response to questions from a senate committee, PwC Australia provided a list of four former partners involved in the leak, including the partner at the centre of the scandal.
The “big four” firm also named a separate group of 63 current and former partners who received at least one email containing confidential information relating to Australia’s 2016 Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law.
These staff did not necessarily know about the confidentiality breach.
The submission to the senate committee listing the names was first reported by the Australian Financial Review and later confirmed by a PwC spokesperson to Reuters.
Acting chief executive Kristin Stubbins publicly apologised last week for the scandal and directed nine partners to go on leave pending the outcome of the investigation into the confidentiality breaches. Some but not all of those partners were named in the submission.
Australia’s largest pension fund last week froze future work with the firm, widening the fallout and raising the risk that private-sector clients could follow a growing list of government agencies reviewing or pausing their work with the firm.