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PwC has handed over the names of staff it says are implicated in the tax leak scandal, including the nine partners who were stood down and the 63 staff and partners who received emails containing confidential information on changes to multinational tax avoidance laws.
This follows a demand from Senate estimates to name all those involved.
PwC acting chief executive Kristin Stubbins has finally handed over the names of any staff implicated in the tax scandal based on its internal investigations.Credit: Fairfax Media
“We’ve heard the calls from our stakeholders to release the names of those who were responsible for confidentiality breaches and we’ve been working as quickly as possible to determine that and to disclose these names to the Senate per their request, and we have now done so,” PwC’s acting chief executive, Kristin Stubbins, said in a public statement.
“It is important for us to respect the ongoing investigations and legal processes to ensure this matter is investigated appropriately, and that is what we are doing.”
An internal email to PwC staff on Monday afternoon revealed that, aside from Peter Collins – who was banned as a tax practitioner last year for leaking confidential government plans to combat tax evasion – other partners involved include Michael Bersten, Neil Fuller and Paul McNab. None of the four remain at PwC.
Former PwC partner Paul McNab: “At all times I worked with my clients to comply with Australian law, and not avoid it.”Credit:
Bersten was a former tax and legal partner at PwC, Fuller was a senior tax partner and McNab was part of the firm’s Tax Controversy & Dispute Resolution group.
McNab has publicly confirmed he was on the PwC list. “It is noteworthy that the firm has taken this action to name former partners only. I had no forewarning or opportunity to respond,” McNab said in a statement.
“For the record, I was not involved in any Treasury consultations regarding MAAL [Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law] where confidential information was discussed. In addition, I trusted that the information shared with me as a partner of the firm would comply with any confidentiality agreements that may have been in place with Treasury.
“At all times I worked with my clients to comply with Australian law, and not avoid it.”
Michael Bersten, a former tax and legal partner at PwC.Credit:
Bersten has been contacted for comment.
These partners are separate from the nine partners recently stood down – for reasons that include broader governance failures related to the scandal – pending the outcome of the group’s investigation.
A further 63 PwC partners and staff have been named as receiving at least one of the confidential emails, according to the communique with staff. This information has not been released publicly by the firm.
The names were provided in response to questions on notice from Greens senator Barbara Pocock. The Senate committee will receive the names on Tuesday morning.
The Australian Federal Police commenced a criminal investigation into the matter last month after a referral from the Treasury Department.
Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy said the release of emails by the Tax Practitioners Board on May 2 highlighted the significant extent of the unauthorised disclosure of confidential information and the “wide range of individuals within PwC who were directly and indirectly privy to the confidential information”.
The Tax Practitioners Board banned Collins after finding he had shared confidential government briefings on multinational tax reform with PwC partners and clients to help them sidestep the laws.
Since then, the board tabled 144 pages of documents with Senate estimates showing more than 50 PwC staff and partners had been included in emails discussing confidential government tax plans. This document was released early last month.
Last week, Tax Practitioners Board chief executive Michael O’Neill said it was compiling a list of people who received emails about the tax leak. He said the board had also asked PwC to provide the names of the nine partners who had been stood down last Monday pending the consulting firm’s own investigation into the matter.
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