Former PwC boss Luke Sayers has questions to answer on tax scandal

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By Deborah O'Neill

May 26, 2023 — 3.29pm

Many Australians don’t work the fiscal sections of the papers oregon wage attraction to the item of what’s played retired successful a fiscal satellite truthful acold distant from their ain household budgeting.

Let’s look it: there’s a full economics-discourse spread that makes fiscal literacy a challenge, and not everyone is into the jargon oregon the detail. But adjacent astatine specified a region from the fiscal work sector, cognition of the standard of the ethical and motivation nonaccomplishment astatine PwC is leaking into the broader community. People cognize it’s thing to bash with taxation and large tech companies not paying their just share, and a bloke who took confidential accusation from Australian citizens and utilized it to marque money.

Peter Collins, erstwhile  planetary   taxation  person  for PwC Australia.

Peter Collins, erstwhile planetary taxation person for PwC Australia.

When a elder spouse astatine PwC, Peter Collins, signed 3 abstracted confidentiality agreements with the Australian authorities betwixt 2013 and 2018, helium knew what helium was doing. He was wrong the tent; helium had entree to confidential accusation astir Australian taxation laws being designed to guarantee large multinationals wage their just stock of tax. He sat successful meetings with Australian Treasury officials and shared his sizeable cognition astir taxation instrumentality to assistance successful the effectual plan of Australian law. But past helium went backmost to PwC Australia and PwC Global and – with the enactment of PwC colleagues successful the US, UK, Singapore, Ireland, and Europe – unethically and collaboratively designed a strategy to nett himself, his colleagues and each the partners successful the firm.

PwC attempted to alteration large planetary companies, the names of which I mean to guarantee are revealed, to debar paying their just stock of tax. That is wealth consecutive from the pockets of hard-working Australians. The actions of PwC were a nonstop battle connected our nation’s capableness to money our schools, hospitals and nationalist services – and successful that mode was a nonstop battle connected each Australian citizen.

Let’s beryllium wide astir this: erstwhile Collins had the quality astir what the Australian authorities was doing connected the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Legislation (MAAL), helium took it backmost to PwC to stock with colleagues. And stock it helium did – acold and wide crossed the PwC Australia and Global network. Together with others astatine PwC, Collins became the cardinal cog successful the instrumentality being actively constructed wrong PwC to crook confidential cognition into a merchandise for PwC to flog disconnected to the aforesaid multinationals who were trying to minimise the magnitude of taxation they wage successful Australia.


The precise archetypal clip that sharing of confidential worldly and insights was suggested was the infinitesimal PwC should person pounced connected Collins and sacked him for aggregate breaches of ethical boundaries. The infinitesimal of accidental to bash the close happening was lost. What occurred is substance of humanities fact: determination is simply a present nationalist cache of communications betwixt Collins and astatine slightest 53 antithetic redacted PwC email addresses that fills 144 pages. It is genuinely shocking material.

A sample: “In full we expect (based connected interest estimates that we person agreed with clients) that gross from the archetypal signifier of the MAAL projects volition beryllium astir $2.5 million.” That’s Collins successful a PwC love-in that celebrated his deception and delighted successful the anticipated travel of dollars into the PwC coffers.

Another: “Don’t circulate it beyond america oregon sermon it extracurricular PwC – it would truly enactment PwC Australia and maine successful a existent bind.” Not lone did Collins cognize helium shouldn’t beryllium sharing the confidential worldly with anyone, helium knew it would beryllium a large occupation for everyone who facilitated the process helium was leading. No 1 astatine PwC Australia oregon PwC Global stopped him.

The communications betwixt PwC Australia and PwC Global extends from October 2014 to January 2017. In May 2016, truthful excited was PwC by the imaginable of capturing the multinational taxation avoidance marketplace with the insider intel, it held a league telephone for planetary taxation partners.


Collins knew what helium was doing. It breached the ethical and nonrecreational bound helium should person known and observed successful tone and practice. He was banned from practising for 2 years. But helium was not unsocial and the emails helium sent and received implicate galore of his PwC colleagues.

All this occurred during the enactment successful Australia of Luke Sayers, PwC’s then-CEO. He has questions to reply astir the behaviour that took spot connected his watch. Tom Seymour, PwC’s caput of taxation astatine the clip and aboriginal CEO of PwC Australia, has already stepped down. We’re told by PwC that helium volition discontinue successful September, astir the aforesaid clip arsenic the PwC interior reappraisal is expected to land. But what astir each the others?

The Australian radical merit amended from 1 of Australia’s biggest assurance companies. It’s clip for PwC to look the euphony and to sanction the names of each involved. No delaying; nary mucking around; nary hiding immoderate longer. Name the names. As the PwC saga continues, I deliberation it’s clip to telephone retired the behaviour of a enactment squad present successful damage-control mode.

Deborah O’Neill is simply a Labor legislator for NSW and seat of the Joint Standing Committee connected Corporations and Financial Services.

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