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Former PwC Australia partner faces criminal investigation over tax leaks

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 30, 2018: PwC headquarters building

Police are now investigating the leak of confidential tax information by a former PwC partner at the request of the Australian government.

The Australian Federal Police has launched an investigation into former PwC employee Peter-John Collins and his role in the Treasury tax leaks scandal today, May 24.

An AFP spokesperson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the police have “received a report of crime relating to the alleged misuse of confidential government information”.

“An investigation has commenced and no further comment will be made at this time,” the spokesperson added.

PwC Australia received confidential government tax plans after Collins, the firm’s former head of international tax, attended high-level meetings as part of his role in an advisory group to the Australian Treasury.

The Tax Practitioners Board has imposed a two-year ban on Collins as a penalty. Collins left PwC Australia in October 2022.

Steven Kennedy, secretary to the Treasury, said Collins had “improperly used confidential Commonwealth information” in an official statement earlier today.

“The emails that the Tax Practitioners Board tabled in Parliament on May 2 2023 highlighted the significant extent of the unauthorised disclosure of confidential Commonwealth information and the wide range of individuals within PwC who were directly and indirectly privy to the confidential information,” Kennedy said.

“In light of these recent revelations and the seriousness of this misconduct, the Treasury has referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police to consider commencement of a criminal investigation,” he added.

PwC Australia CEO Tom Seymour stepped down on May 9 over the scandal. An independent inquiry has been launched and Seymour is set to retire in September, when the results of the investigation will be published.

Last week, Kristin Stubbins, acting CEO, said: “We are committed to learning from our mistakes and ensuring that we embrace the high standards of governance, culture and accountability that our people, clients and external stakeholders rightly expect.”

The ‘big four’ firm has flown in global executives to take oversight of the crisis, while former Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski conducts an independent review of the leak and the company.

A PwC Australia spokesperson said the firm “will continue to co-operate fully with any investigations into this matter”, reported Reuters.

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