AFP investigating former PwC executive over using confidential Treasury information

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The Australian Federal Treasury has taken a serious step by referring a former executive from consulting firm PwC to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). This action comes after the executive, Peter-John Collins, utilized confidential information from the Treasury to benefit PwC’s clients.

In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy expressed his concern and requested the AFP to consider a criminal investigation into Collins’ actions. It was discovered that Collins shared confidential information about tax laws with partners, staff, and clients, despite signing multiple confidentiality agreements over the years.

The Tax Practitioners Board presented emails in Parliament on May 2, 2023, highlighting the significant extent of the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information within PwC. This breach involved a wide range of individuals associated with the firm. It is important to note that Collins had previously assisted the Commonwealth in drafting tax laws to tackle profit shifting by multinational companies nearly a decade ago.

The Tax Practitioners Board investigated the matter and found Collins to have acted without integrity, resulting in his disqualification from practicing until the end of 2024. Following these developments, PwC Australia’s chief executive, Tom Seymour, recently stepped down from his position.

Although Treasurer Jim Chalmers did not comment directly on the AFP referral, he indicated that further actions would be taken against PwC. Changes are already underway to reform the operations of the Tax Practitioners Board. 

Chalmers expressed disappointment with the behavior exhibited, emphasizing the need for trust in the process, especially considering the desire for consultation with corporate Australia on matters that impact them. 

Please note that referring the case to the AFP does not automatically start a criminal investigation. The AFP will make the decision to investigate based on the referral from the Treasury.

During Senate estimates, representatives from the Attorney-General’s Department acknowledged the concerns raised regarding PwC’s conduct but stated that the firm had not been prohibited from participating in future tendering processes. The department remains mindful of the concerns surrounding PwC’s actions while considering them as a factor in future processes.

The situation continues to unfold, and the Australian government is determined to address the breakdown of trust and take appropriate measures to rectify the issue.


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