Accusations were leveled against PwC Australia during a recent Australian Senate inquiry, where a senior official from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) accused the firm of deliberately concealing a report detailing the utilization of leaked government tax information. This inquiry follows the PwC tax leaks scandal that dominated headlines throughout 2023.
Jeremy Hirschhorn, the ATO's second commissioner, expressed frustration at the inability of the tax authority to access a complete internal report prepared by 'magic circle' law firm Linklaters regarding the scandal. While PwC released a summary of the report in September, detailing that six PwC professionals outside of Australia "should have raised questions" regarding the confidentiality of the information they received, the full report remains unpublished.
Kevin Burrowes, PwC Australia's chief executive, cited legal constraints in denying the ATO's request for the complete Linklaters report, stating that the information is deemed "privileged and confidential to PwC International," a legally distinct entity.
Hirschhorn criticized PwC's lack of transparency, stating, "We share the frustrations of this committee that an organization which claims to be cooperative is deliberately hiding behind the difference between their local firm and the international firm."
Richard Colbeck, a Liberal Party senator, underscored the urgency of the situation, emphasizing the need for transparency regarding the identities of the individuals involved. Referring to them as "the dirty six," Colbeck stressed the importance of disclosing this information to the public, asserting, "If we don’t see the report, it ain’t going to be pretty. We are deadly serious about this."
The Senate inquiry's condemnation marks yet another blow to PwC's reputation in Australia, following widespread public scrutiny in the wake of the tax leaks scandal. Recent reports indicate that nearly half of Australians desire reduced government reliance on the 'big four' firms, reflecting the profound impact of the controversy on public perception.
By fLEXI tEAM