Thursday, May 04, 2023

PWC Fire and Ice: Schizophrenia at the IMF

What PwC said about the tax leaks (versus what internal emails show)

PwC emails published by the Senate Economics on Tuesday as answers to Questions on Notice appear to conflict with comments about the leaks of confidential government documents by the firm’s former head of international tax, Peter Collins.

The PwC comments focus only on official findings by the Tax Practitioners Board on Mr Collins and PwC itself. The emails are more expansive.

Internal PwC emails. 

What PwC said January 2022: “We acknowledge the TPB found that a partner of the firm did not comply with confidentiality agreements in relation to a consultation process with Treasury, which occurred in 2014.”

What the emails show Leaks of government information extended from October 2014 to January 2017. Other partners who shared Collins’ documents cautioned that they were confidential: “don’t circulate it beyond us or discuss it outside PwC – it would really put PwC Australia and me in a real bind.”

What PwC said January 2022: There was “no finding” that PwC was able to use advance knowledge of new laws to prepare ways to minimise their effect and “no structures were changed in relation to this matter”.

What the emails show January 6 2014: “We are assisting 14 clients with their efforts to comply with the MAAL [multinational anti-avoidance laws]” in part because “we were aggressive in telling these relationships they needed to act early (heavily helped by the accuracy of the intelligence that Peter Collins was able to supply us).

“In total, we expect (based on fee estimates that we have agreed with clients) that revenue from this first stage of the MAAL projects will be approximately $2.5 million.”

What PwC said March 8 2022 PwC CEO Tom Seymour said: “The actual TPB findings say one partner shared information... The representative from the TPB said 20 to 30 people involved in giving advice around this, I can’t say whether they were involved or not in this leak. But actually, there was no findings at all that they were. The issue for us is there’s a perception issue....”

What the emails show: The emails show at least 53 different redacted PwC email addresses in Australia, the UK, the US and Ireland in emails related to leaked information. Some recipients may have used multiple addresses. Some emails were addressed to all tax partners and tax directors.

May 2016 PwC held conference call to brief global tax partners on proposed Diverted Profits Tax “leveraging Peter Collins’s insights”.

Jan 25 2017 PwC partner to Collins: “Can you send me the draft leg’ pls. Can you also send me a note on the mtg yesterday. I have so many clients interested in this that we need to be at the front of the pack. Thanks.”

Background briefings

Sources close to PwC had previously claimed

  • the only material shared was a meeting agenda
  • “The information was shared with a small group of people within the firm. This was done contrary to the firm’s policies.”

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Whistle while you work

Fire and Ice NPR

Schizophrenia at the IMF Project Syndicate

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