By Lewis Jackson
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Two lawmakers on Thursday called on PwC Australia to name all the companies it sought to advise on the basis of leaked government tax plans, after a report linked Google to the national scandal first exposed in January.
Citing two sources, Reuters reported on Wednesday that Google had received confidential information from a former PwC employee confirming the likely 2016 start date of a law targeting multinational tax avoidance after there had been calls from a number of organisations to delay the legislation.
A cache of 144-pages of PwC emails dating from 2014 to 2017 publicly released by the Tax Practioners Board in May detail how a former tax partner shared with colleagues confidential government tax plans, which they then used to drum up work with companies overseas.
One of the released emails dated Jan. 6, 2016 mentioned a “north American project” that had 14 unnamed companies as clients.
“PwC must name the names, let the reality of who they approached and engaged in business with be revealed,” said Deborah O’Neill, a senator with the ruling Labor party, who sits on the government committee investigating the matter.
PwC Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The committee will hold two days of public hearings on July 17 and 18. The attendance list has not been published, but O’Neill told Reuters it would be a “natural step” for Google to appear before the committee at some point.
Fellow committee member and Greens Senator Barbara Pocock said the committee had already sent PwC a set of questions including requests to name all 14 companies referenced in the email cache and detail their interactions with the firm.
“I and the Senate have sought a full account of all the uses of confidential information and the names of the staff within PwC who made use of that information and the companies that were assisted,” Pocock told Reuters.
First revealed by tax authorities in January, the scandal has forced out PwC Australia’s Chief Executive Tom Seymour, cost it at least six high-profile clients and triggered the sale of its lucrative government consulting wing for A$1 ($0.66).
(Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Sonali Paul)
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