PwC Australia will make significant changes to its governance and culture following an external review that uncovered a concerning “whatever it takes” approach to making money within the firm. The review, conducted by former Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski, was commissioned after it was revealed that a former partner had leaked confidential tax documents to win clients. Switkowski highlighted longstanding poor practices, including a board dominated by PwC partners and a lack of accountability for the CEO. The review also found that a decentralized business model and an overly collegial culture hindered oversight and encouraged misconduct.
PwC Australia has acknowledged its failures and expressed regret for the shortcomings identified in the review. CEO Kevin Burrowes emphasized the importance of addressing the issues that allowed misconduct to persist over time. However, the review did not determine how the leaks occurred or assign responsibility for them. Two law firms have been appointed to investigate the breach, but PwC Australia has not committed to making their reports public.
In response to the review’s findings, PwC Australia has committed to implementing all 23 recommendations, some of which have already been adopted. The recommendations include appointing an external chief risk officer, reforming the firm’s culture, and tying partner pay to ethical behavior. PwC Australia had previously announced its intention to add outside members to its board, and the search for candidates has begun. Other changes, such as empowering the board to hire and fire the CEO, will require approval from PwC partners. The firm aims to have fully implemented all recommendations by December 2025. Meanwhile, investigations into the leak are ongoing, with police and tax regulators involved, and the Australian government has pledged to strengthen penalties against those involved in promoting illegal tax schemes.