The head of PwC in Australia has resigned as CEO three days after admitting to receiving emails containing confidential government information about changes to tax avoidance laws to bring in new clients.
Tom Seymour, CEO of PwC Australia since March 2020, stepped down with immediate effect following a meeting with the Board of Partners on Monday. Kristin Stubbins, the head of insurance, will serve as acting CEO.
We have agreed with Tom that this is in the best interest of the company and our stakeholders.
Tracey Kennair, Chairman of the Board of Partners, said PwC must immediately restore and strengthen confidence in Australia, one of its largest markets, where it has launched a review of its practices in the country.
“The previously announced independent review, in addition to the changes already made, will help us achieve this goal,” she said.
PwC has been embroiled in a scandal since February when the Tax Practitioners Board, Australia’s industry watchdog, banned Peter-John Collins, PwC’s former head of international tax affairs in Australia, for divulging information with other PwC employees from confidential meetings with the Treasury on new laws to combat tax avoidance.
Emails released last week by a Senate committee revealed that PwC had used the confidential information of Collins, who had signed strict non-disclosure agreements, to advise its clients and bring in new clients.
Seymour, who led Collins when he headed the Australian arm of PwC’s tax department, admitted on Friday that he was one of the partners who received some emails about the financial success of the tax advisory in 2015 and 2016.
The emails revealed that the information had been shared with colleagues in the UK, Ireland and the US and that the emails included praise for the “accuracy” of Collins’ advice in bringing in millions of dollars in new cases in Northern Ireland. America. The Australian tax partners had worked “extensively” with other PwC firms around the world, including in the US, the Netherlands and Singapore, according to an email.
Australia is one of PwC’s largest global partnerships, reporting revenue of A$3 billion (US$2 billion) in its most recent fiscal year. The unit counts the Australian government as its largest customer.
Some Australian politicians have called on the Treasury Department to sever ties with PwC. The accountant’s partners will vote on a new CEO in the coming months.
Stubbins said in a statement: “We are committed to learning from our mistakes, listening to our stakeholders and improving our culture to build greater trust and transparency.”