Australia says PwC leak of government tax documents may be referred to police

PricewaterhouseCoopers logo

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia said on Monday the government will take further steps in response to the leak of government tax plans by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and that the matter could be referred to the Australian Federal Police.

The government, a PwC Australia client, has accused the firm of sharing confidential information about new anti-tax avoidance measures with its corporate customers to win more business in what it has called a major breach of trust.

PwC Australia’s CEO stepped down this month and the firm has said it is “committed to learning for our mistakes”.

“We’ve got Treasury looking at an investigation into what has occurred, and looking at whether criminal charges should be referred to the AFP,” Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Some lawmakers have called for a total ban on granting the auditor more government contracts.

PwC declined comment on Monday.

“I think the PwC experience has been deeply, deeply troubling and we’ve already taken some steps but we will be taking further steps,” Treasurer Jim Chalmers also told ABC Radio in an interview on Monday.

“I will have more to say about how we crack down on this behaviour, which is inexcusable, frankly,” he said.

PwC said this month that former Telstra and Optus CEO Ziggy Switkowski will lead an independent review into the leak and will report his findings and recommendations in September.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon and Renju Jose; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)