PwC censured, fined almost $100,000 after tax leak

Maeve Bannister |

A tribunal has ruled that PwC Australia will have to pay almost $100,000.
A tribunal has ruled that PwC Australia will have to pay almost $100,000.

Embattled consultancy firm PwC has been fined nearly $100,000 and found to have discredited the accounting profession by a disciplinary tribunal.

The consultancy firm has faced sustained criticism and is accused of abusing its trusted role as an adviser after staff leaked information about proposed federal government tax changes to clients.

PwC Australia’s former head of international tax Peter Collins is being investigated by federal police over allegedly improperly using confidential Commonwealth information.

In January, Collins was deregistered by the Tax Practitioners Board which found PwC Australia failed to properly manage conflicts of interest when confidential law reform information was shared with partners and staff.

Several staff members, including a number of partners, have since been sacked.

In October, the matter was referred to the disciplinary tribunal of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), an industry body working to uphold the profession’s reputation by ensuring members comply with ethical codes.

Following an investigation, the tribunal found PwC Australia breached CA ANZ by-laws and brought discredit upon itself and the accounting profession.

The firm has been ordered to comply with a regime of reporting, monitoring and review to CA ANZ, in conjunction with other authorities, up until at least July 2026.

The tribunal also imposed a maximum fine of $50,000 plus a full costs order of $45,668 on the firm.

CA ANZ chief executive Ainslie van Onselen said the organisation was committed to ensuring the highest standards of professional ethics were met by leading accounting bodies.

Members recently voted in favour of strengthening by-laws and sanctions to include increasing the maximum fines that can be imposed by the tribunal to $250,000, she added.

“It’s an important part of instilling public confidence in the expertise, professionalism and integrity of Chartered Accountants and the profession,” Ms van Onselen said.

PwC Australia has been approached for comment.

AAP