PwC leaked secret tax data from its government work to foreign tax avoiders, potentially costing Australians billions. Like nothing ever happened, they are now picking up multimillion dollar public contracts again. Callum Foote reports.
Three months on from revelations that consultancy firm PWC leaked confidential government briefings to its private clients, assisting them in creating tax avoidance structures, the global giant is back working for government agencies. Fact is, they never left. Just one partner copped a license ban and the firm agreed to – be slapped with a wet compliance lettuce – engage in an ethics program.
In January this year, it was revealed that the Tax Practitioners Board had suspended the licence of Peter John Collins, a former tax partner at PwC, for two years for integrity breaches.
The former partner had leaked confidential Treasury briefings to do with possible multinational tax changes being taken in coordination with the OECD with his colleagues despite signing confidentiality agreements.
At the time, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said he was “absolutely furious, absolutely ropable.” So furious was he that he asked for advice from the Treasury, the Board of Tax and the Tax Office about “any additional steps that we should be taking to protect the integrity of these processes”.
We don’t know what came of that advice, and Peter John Collins appears to be the only PWC casualty from the scandal. Everyone else involved just had to undergo training about how to handle conflicts of interest.
And now the consultancy giant has scored a contract with the Reserve Bank of Australia to help manage the underpayments of a number of current and former staff over the past seven years.
This is not the only government, or government adjacent, contract that PWC has scored since the January debacle.
However, PWC is down on its first quarter government contracts compared to last year, where it received $5.4 million worth of work compared to $1.6 million this year.
Here is a list of all the separate government contacts PWC has entered into this year.