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Disgraced PwC Partner Who Got Forced Out Forgot to Mention the Disgrace in His Farewell LinkedIn Post

Caucasian male's hand dropping the mic, stretched hand and a microphone soft focus close up isolated on white background

In what must surely be an oversight, mandatorily retired PwC Australia partner Peter van Dongen (again, great name) neglected to mention that he was forced out of the firm, saying he “agreed with PwC to bring forward my planned retirement by a few months.”

AFR columnist Joe Aston writes:

A month ago, embattled consultancy giant PwC announced it was booting eight partners, including Sydney-based Peter van Dongen, following an internal investigation into its tax leak scandal. This week, van Dongen made his departure from PwC LinkedIn official, with a decidedly different perspective on events.

“Almost 40 years since starting as an undergraduate in the Melbourne assurance practice, I have agreed with PwC to bring forward my planned retirement by a few months, and voluntarily retire,” he wrote, adding he wished PwC nothing but great success. “Now for a short career break – and then to re-emerge for whatever is next …”

On Monday July 3, after the sacrifice of CEO Tom Seymour wasn’t sufficient to call off the hounds, PwC Australia announced via press release that eight partners have exited or were in the process of being removed from the partnership after an internal investigation. The investigation was intended to get to the bottom of circumstances that caused a high ranking partner to try and monetize confidential government tax information, or rather the investigation’s purpose was to gas up the bus and find a few people to throw under it.

Said that press release:

The investigation identified a number of specific examples where professional standards were breached with respect to misuse of confidential information or other matters reviewed by the ATO [Australian Tax Office]. Furthermore, the investigation identified a failure of leadership and governance to adequately address the matters, either at the time or whilst the matters were under investigation by the TPB [Tax Practitioners Board] or ATO. This enabled poor behaviours to persist with no accountability. These behaviours are not, and never have been, acceptable under PwC’s standards.

Two partners — Peter Konidaris and Eddy Moussa — exited the PwC partnership because their actions failed to meet their professional responsibilities and two others — Pete Calleja and Sean Gregory — were counseled out of the PwC partnership “as a result of their failure to adequately exercise their expected leadership or governance responsibilities to prevent these actions or to address the deficiencies in culture at the firm or hold others accountable for their behaviors.” Our boy van Dongen was grouped with Wayne Plummer and former CEO Tom Seymour as one of the three partners who “have been given notice of PwC Australia’s findings against them and the same process started under the Partnership Agreement to remove them from the partnership.”

Ironically, as it relates to van Dongen’s LinkedIn post, acting CEO Kristin Stubbins provided a juicy quote in that press release about the importance of accountability. “Accountability is critical to improving our culture and based on our investigation to date, it is clear that the conduct of a number of partners fell short of what was expected of them. They are now being held accountable for their misconduct. While we cannot change the past, we can control our actions today and in the future,” she said.

Or we can just sweep it under the rug and wait for it all to blow over.

It seems van Dongen’s connections did not receive that July 3 press release regarding the reasons behind his departure. From his LinkedIn post (archive):

Note to Associates: the next time someone tells you be careful not to burn bridges because public accounting is a small world, you tell them to go fuck themselves and then write a LinkedIn post congratulating yourself for leveling up to your next great opportunity after security escorts you out of the building.