By Lewis Jackson
SYDNEY (Reuters) – PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Australia on Monday placed nine partners on leave and overhauled its governance board, as it battles a national scandal over the misuse of confidential government tax plans.
The “big four” firm is reeling after a former tax partner consulting on new anti-tax avoidance laws shared confidential drafts with colleagues that were then used to drum up business.
The Australian Treasury referred the matter to police for a criminal investigation on Wednesday. PwC agreed to stand down from government work any implicated staff a day later.
Amid calls to bar the company from all government work, PwC Australia on Monday directed nine partners to go on leave, according to a statement.
The chair of the firm’s Governance Board and its risk committee will also step down, with two independent directors set to join the board, the statement added.
“It is now clear that when we learned of the confidentiality breach and related issues we failed to conduct an appropriate root cause investigation,” acting CEO Kristin Stubbins said in the statement.
“That was the result of a failure of leadership and governance.”
(Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Sonali Paul)