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Friday Footnotes: Big 4 Consulting Cartels; Ex-PwCer Takes an L; KPMG Has the Hots For Orlando | 5.14.21

Deloitte, KPMG, PwC Units Fined in Spain Consulting ‘Cartels’ [Bloomberg Tax] Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC are among 22 consulting firms to be fined a total of almost 6 million euros ($7.3 million) for forming cartels that manipulated Spanish public contracts for at least 10 years, the country’s market watchdog has said. The firms worked in two distinct networks of collaboration to share out the allocation of some 200 public contracts between 2008 and 2018, the National Commission of Markets and Competition said May 11.

Deloitte retirement clause will not prevent partner testimony [Australian Financial Review] A policy barring retired Deloitte partners from speaking out in a way that may be “adverse or prejudicial” to the firm will not stop them from testifying in a landmark age discrimination case against the consulting giant. The Federal Court last month ordered at least five past Deloitte partners to produce evidence about the circumstances of their retirement, despite a non-disparagement clause tying a lucrative “retirement payment” to their silence.

Ex-PwC Employee Loses LuxLeaks Whistleblower Appeal [Bloomberg Tax] A former PwC LLP employee who passed tax information to a journalist in the LuxLeaks financial scandal lost his appeal at the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday.The court rejected an appeal by Raphael Halet, who argued that his right of freedom of expression had been infringed by a 2016 conviction in Luxembourg, later upheld on appeal, for revealing confidential PWC information on the firm’s dealings with multinational companies. The documents he provided formed part of the 2014 “LuxLeaks” investigation, which revealed secret tax arrangements between the corporations and the Luxembourg authorities.

KPMG installs Catherine Burnet as UK audit chief [] After the promotion of Jon Holt to the highest office in KPMG’s UK wing, the outgoing Head of Audit has been replaced by Catherine Burnet. The news comes as KPMG attempts to steady the ship, after a bruising few months following the resignation of its controversial former Chair Bill Michael.

EY Settles Out Of Court Over Cum-Ex Bank Collapse [Law360] Big Four auditing firm EY has settled out of court with the administrator of Germany’s Maple Bank, which collapsed in the wake of the cum-ex tax fraud scandal, a spokesperson for EY confirmed Monday. The firm was potentially on the hook for €185 million ($225 million) and was due to face the collapsed Maple Bank liquidator in a German court Thursday over alleged breach of duty when signing off on the bank’s books and offering tax advice. The hearing was canceled, a spokesperson for the court confirmed.

KPMG Opens New Capability Center in Orlando, Announces Employment Opportunities [ExecutiveBiz] Kamp KPMG will have a new neighbor: KPMG has expanded its operations in the Lake Nona community in Orlando with the opening of a new facility that will house the firm’s additional workforce who will be responsible for providing customers with advisory and tax services. The Capability Center is established in support of KPMG’s enhanced service delivery model and will enable the company to offer 350 new jobs in the state and open additional work opportunities in the future, the services provider said Tuesday.

U.S. SEC chair planning new workforce data disclosures for public companies [Reuters] The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) plans to propose a rule requiring that public companies disclose a range of workforce data as the agency steps up environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosures, its new chair, Gary Gensler, said on Thursday.

PCAOB proposal addresses international oversight challenges [Journal of Accountancy] “Cooperation between the PCAOB and our international counterparts is vital to facilitating meaningful audit oversight and to strengthening investor protection,” PCAOB Chairman William Duhnke said. “This rule will enable the PCAOB to fulfill its responsibilities under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act.”

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