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Chartered Accountants ANZ Media Statement

Chartered Accountants ANZ 4 mins read

MEDIA STATEMENT

 

 

28 November 2023

 

PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia censured and fined by

CA ANZ Disciplinary Tribunal

 

The Disciplinary Tribunal of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) has censured PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia (PwC Australia), imposed the maximum fine available under the existing CA ANZ By-Laws ($50,000) and a full costs order ($45,668), and imposed review and reporting requirements on the firm as result of the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) order against the firm which was made public in January 2023.

The Disciplinary Tribunal’s decision will be published on the Decisions Register on CA ANZ’s website and in its official publication Acuity.

The Disciplinary Tribunal found that PwC Australia breached the CA ANZ By-Laws and brought discredit upon itself, CA ANZ and the profession of accountancy, and has ordered the firm to comply with a regime of reporting, monitoring and review to CA ANZ, in conjunction with other authorities, up until at least 1 July 2026.

This includes, keeping the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) informed of the progress and results of the TPB-ordered training of partners and staff on compliance with the TPB Code of Professional Conduct and management of conflicts of interest, in particular of those involved in confidential tax consultations.

PwC Australia will also deliver progress reports to the PCC on the implementation of recommendations from Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO’s Independent Review.

BACKGROUND

The investigation into PwC Australia began in January 2023 when the firm formally notified CA ANZ’s independent PCC of the TPB order against the firm on behalf of the partnership.

The TPB made findings that PwC Australia breached subsection 30-10(5) of the Code of Professional Conduct as it failed to have in place adequate arrangements to manage conflicts of interest that arose in relation to its activities as a registered tax agent, in circumstances where some PwC partners and personnel were engaged by the Commonwealth Treasury department on proposed Australian tax legislation and policy positions and were therefore privy to confidential information which could be marketed to new and existing clients despite the existence of signed confidentiality agreements. The TPB found that some of this information was shared with other PwC personnel and existing and potential clients of PwC Australia.

After an investigation by the PCC, the matter was referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal and PwC appeared at a hearing before the DT on 13 October 2023.

PwC Australia cooperated with the disciplinary bodies.

The resolution of this matter in respect of the TPB order against the firm does not limit or affect the PCC’s related ongoing investigations of current or former partners of PwC who are members of CA ANZ, in connection with the misuse of confidential information and other matters.

FINDINGS IN DETAIL

The Disciplinary Tribunal considered the TPB order against PwC Australia and determined that it amounted to “an adverse or unfavourable finding in relation to its professional or business conduct, competence or integrity by a statutory authority in breach of By-Law 40 (2.1)(e).”

The Disciplinary Tribunal also found PwC Australia “had committed an act, omission or default which brings or may bring discredit upon the NMPE (Non-Member Practice Entity/itself), CA ANZ or the profession of accountancy, in breach of By-Law 40 (2.1)(k) and that it is a breach of By-Law 40 (2.1)(g) to have “a condition or restriction imposed upon its professional registration with the Tax Practitioners Board.”

The Disciplinary Tribunal noted PwC Australia’s actions in failing to address cultural deficiencies and hold others accountable for those actions and that this had resulted in the undermining of trust in the firm and the profession.

The full Disciplinary Tribunal decision can be found on the CA ANZ website here.

CA ANZ REACTION

‘I’m pleased to see the independent Disciplinary Tribunal release its decision after what would have been a complex investigation and process that required time to gather information alongside several concurrent investigations including by PwC itself, the parliament and other bodies,’ said Ainslie van Onselen, CEO of Chartered Accountants ANZ.

‘CA ANZ is committed to ensuring the highest standards of professional ethics and performance expected of leading accounting professionals are met, and that members’ firms uphold their responsibilities for embedding professional ethics and promoting ethical behaviour and we have signalled that our ongoing review program will include these matters.

‘It’s an important part of instilling public confidence in the expertise, professionalism and integrity of Chartered Accountants and the profession.

‘Our members recently voted yes to strengthening CA ANZ’s By-Laws and sanctions for Firm Events which, from next year, will include a material increase to the maximum fines which may be imposed at the Professional Conduct Committee level to $100,000 and at the Disciplinary Tribunal level to $250,000.’

To make a complaint against a CA ANZ member, submit a complaint with CA ANZ.

ENDS

 

About Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand represents more than 136,000 financial professionals, supporting them to make a difference to the businesses, organisations and communities in which they work and live. Chartered Accountants are known as Difference Makers. The depth and breadth of their expertise helps them to see the big picture and chart the best course of action.

www.charteredaccountantsanz.com

For more information contact:

NEW ZEALAND

Daniel Webster, Public Affairs Manager New Zealand

M +64 27 282 6253

daniel.webster@charteredaccountantsanz.com

AUSTRALIA

Gillian Bowen, Public Affairs Manager Australia

M +61 411 485 421

gillian.bowen@charteredaccountantsanz.com

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