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PwC to Re-Train Employees After Australian Tax Leak

PwC to Re-Train Employees After Australian Tax Leak

by Starling Insights

Starling Insights Editorial Board


PwC Australia recently announced that some partners and employees would undergo additional training to reemphasize confidentiality obligations, following a major tax information leak at the firm. The scheme, which the Australian Tax Office uncovered in a routine audit, involved 20 to 30 PwC partners and staff sharing confidential government tax policy with clients.

This information had been obtained initially by PwC partner Peter Collins, despite his having signed confidentiality agreements while doing work for the Treasury and the Board of Taxation.  Collins resigned last year and was deregistered by the Tax Practitioners Board for two years.

PwC Australia has pledged to reform its internal processes to prevent future leaks. According to its Chief Executive Officer, Tom Seymour, the firm "deeply regrets confidentiality in this matter was not maintained.” Despite the scandal, the Tax Office continues to use PwC's services as the firm remains listed as an official supplier to the federal government.

"I think there should be much stronger penalties in terms of PwC's future contracts," said Senator Barbara Pocock, who has demanded a wholesale review of the federal government's over-reliance on consultants. "It is a serious issue and a serious breach,” she added. "The question for me is about the prevailing cultural norms within PwC.” 

Starling will soon publish “Renal Failure: A Crisis in Audit Culture?”, a Deeper Dive Supplement to our 2022 Compendium, which will discuss the recent rash of scandals in the audit profession and how it impacts society at large.

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