New report reveals PwC's culture, accountability

68
4
New report reveals PwC's culture, accountability

: Anybody entrusted to work for or on behalf of the Australian public should act with the utmost of integrity and honesty.

It appears that that hasn't happened.

PwC has been facing the heat for months since it was revealed the accounting and consulting firm misused sensitive government information to help big multinationals avoid paying more tax.

DEBORAH Ogrowth at all costs mindset', a lack of independent voices on its leadership boards and the CEO role had become too powerful and unaccountable.

It's pretty plain. ''Geoffrey Watson'' said, It's pretty plain, he said. An outsider could have said PwC was only interested in profits.

That's the window dressing, the real problem here is the way in which these consultancies have taken over the bureaucracy - that's not being addressed by them at all.

NADIA DALY: Senator Deborah ONEILL: The cultural problems that are now known to the public and are backed in in the section on culture recorded by Mr Switkowski have not gone away.

Today's report into PwC by Ziggy Switkowski identified a culture where'revenue is king' and partners who exceed financial targets are celebrated as 'heroes' and 'rainmakers', and to whom the rules don't always apply.

Dr. Switkowski recommended 23 recommendations, which PwC agreed to implement. Its initiatives include transforming its governance to meet ASX standards and appointing three nonexecutive board members, giving the board the power to fire the CEO and publish audited financial statements.

Senator Ot went far enough, nor were its terms broad enough.

DEBORAH O names. And for the entire period that we know that this matter was on foot, there were two CEOs, one of them was Mr Luke Sayers and the other was Mr Tom Seymour. In Switkowski's review, however, neither of them get a mention.

The report comes as a senate inquiry examining the tax leak scandal yesterday heard from the ATO's Jeremy Hirschorn who said PwC's former CEO Luke Sayers was warned about the ATO's concerns in 2019.

JEREMY HIRSCHHORN, In my discussions with Mr Sayers, I communicated that we had come across various regarding emails across a range of issues and I suggested that he look, that basically he look through those emails.

I thought that the questions that I had raised were of substantial, sufficient concern that there would be, the firm would respond.

Luke Sayers said he didn't recall that conversation, nor was he aware Peter Collins breached confidentiality agreements.

In 2013 PwC partner Peter Collins gave advice to the Treasury on new laws to prevent multinational corporations from exploiting tax loopholes. He signed a confidentiality agreement with the company.

It was later revealed that Mr Collins breached that agreement by sharing information with PwC staff and clients to help them allegedly sidestep new tax laws.

Peter Collins left PwC in October of 2022 and he was soon deregistered for integrity breaches.

The senate has launched a probe into the scandal in March.

In May, internal PwC emails were released showing that some of Peter Collins' colleagues were aware he was leaking government documents.

PwC also launched a police investigation and PwC commissioned an independent internal investigation by former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski.

In the future the firm would replace its CEO, stand down nine of its partners, and sell off the government consulting arm of its business for one dollar.

PwC's CEO was not available for an interview with 7.30, instead releasing a pre-recorded video message.

The independent review highlights a failure of leadership both by individuals and as a firm.

What happened is unacceptable, the failures identified should never have been allowed to take place.

DEBORAH Os certainly not enough, and it certainly doesn't put an end to the matter.

Geoffrey Watson, a government spokesman, said: bigger questions remain over the government's reliance on consultants.

Our governments, not just a federal government, all of our governments need to wean themselves off this dependence that they have on consultants, external consultants, as soon as possible.

It is important that the government restore confidence that decision making is being taken by people who've got their first and only duty to serve the public, rather than private profit.