Canadian and US regulators have hit PwC’s Canadian business with more than £670,000 in fines, for failing to prevent a widespread cheating scandal involving more than 1,200 of its employees.
The US and Canadian watchdogs slammed PwC for allowing more than 1,200 employees to share answers while taking mandatory accounting exams.
Canada’s audit watchdog issued PwC with a $200,000 (£117,000) fine, after stating the Big Four firm had failed to “establish appropriate policies and procedures for administering and overseeing internal training tests.”
US regulators also fined PwC $750,000 (£560,000) for its role in allowing the exam cheating scandal to happen between 2016 and 2020.
The fines come after more than 1,200 PwC employees became embroiled in a widespread cheating scandal, that saw staff in PwC’s Canadian division share computer drives containing the answers to mandatory accountancy exams, on PwC’s own computer network.
In a report, Canada’s audit watchdog said the drives contained at least 46 of the answers to the 55 questions on PwC’s mandatory tests.
Individuals employed by PwC also shared answers to tests via email, in the form of hard documents, and in discussions while actually taking the tests in the presence of others.
In a statement PwC Canada said: “In early 2020, it came to our attention that some of our people, primarily junior-level Assurance employees, shared online documents containing answers to some internal assessments as part of this additional training.”
“Taking this seriously, PwC Canada immediately opened an extensive investigation with the assistance of external resources and voluntarily disclosed this matter to the regulators.”
Canadian regulators said PwC failed to take measures to prevent the cheating scandal from happening, as it said the firm only began implementing policies to fix the situation in January 2020.
“We have since undertaken several remediation steps including retraining, additional ethics training, financial penalties, written warnings and terminations where warranted,” PwC said.
The fines come after PwC Australia was fined $615,000 (£330,000) last year, for allowing its employees to cheat in internal exams.