PwC Australia has fired eight partners including its former chief executive as it scrambles to draw a line under a government leaking scandal that has engulfed the firm down under.
In a statement today, the Big Four firm said an internal probe found multiple examples where the “misuse of confidential information” breached professional standards and also identified “a failure of leadership and governance” to address the breaches.
“Accountability is critical to improving our culture and based on our investigation to date, it is clear that the conduct of a number of partners fell short of what was expected of them,” acting CEO Kristin Stubbins said in the statement.
“They are now being held accountable for their misconduct.”
PwC has been embroiled in crisis after a former partner, Peter-John Collins, who had been advising the Australian government on new tax laws targeting corporate tax avoidance shared confidential drafts with colleagues. The firm then used the draft plans to drum up new business around the world.
Acting chief Stubbins was called in to try and contain the fallout of the scandal at the end of June and has since offloaded its public sector advisory business to a private equity firm Allegro for $1.
The eight partners sacked today over the scandal include former boss Tom Seymour, who resigned in May after admitting he had received emails containing information on the government’s tax plans.
Three of the partners were singled out for actions that “failed to meet their professional responsibilities”.
The other five, including the head of the firm’s financial services division, were removed because of failures to prevent the actions or “hold others accountable for their behaviours”.
“This enabled poor behaviours to persist with no accountability. These behaviours are not, and never have been, acceptable under PwC’s standards,” said the statement from PwC.
PwC has named at least 67 current and former staff involved in the leak in an unpublished letter to the Aussie government.
The firm said the investigation is still continuing in some areas.