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Monday Morning Accounting News Brief: PwC Takes More Ls; Mazars Group Data Breach; Deloitte Expands in India | 5.22.23

Good morning and happy Monday! How’s everyone doing?

Let’s start off with a positive post on r/accounting. I had to check the weather report for Hell when I saw it.

Current and future accountants, you have a lot to be optimistic about.
by u/manthisis in Accounting

Moving on, PwC Australia continues to rack up the Ls. Reuters is reporting that the government will take further steps in response to the leak of government tax plans by PwC and that the matter could be referred to the Australian Federal Police.

The government, a PwC Australia client, has accused the firm of sharing confidential information about new anti-tax avoidance measures with its corporate customers to win more business in what it has called a major breach of trust.

“We’ve got Treasury looking at an investigation into what has occurred, and looking at whether criminal charges should be referred to the AFP,” Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Some lawmakers have called for a total ban on granting the auditor more government contracts.

PwC declined comment on Monday.

And in Ireland, frontline staff at Cork University Hospital have questioned why PwC consultants have earned fees which could run to more than €1m at a time when services are stretched to breaking point:

The Irish Examiner understands the consultant team, believed to include 23 staff from PwC, has been paid more than €1m since October last year to work on a “transformation and improvement programme” for CUH and associated hospitals — Mallow, Bantry, St Finbarr’s Rehabilitation Unit, and CUH Wilton — known collectively as the CUH Group.

During those months and throughout this year, patients attending CUH faced some of the longest waits for a hospital bed in the country. The cost of the services so far this year has yet to be released.

In March, some six months after PwC began work, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation warned overcrowding was “out of control” in Cork, with one day seeing 74 patients waiting for a bed.

Here’s something positive:

Lynn Duttlinger, an accountant from Chesterton, was crowned Northwest Indiana’s top individual Alzheimer’s fundraiser for the sixth year in a row.

You’re a hero, Lynn.

Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) ‘cybercrooks’ say they have breached Mazars Group:

Russia-linked ransomware syndicate ALPHV/BlackCat claims to have stolen sensitive data from Mazars Group. A post on the gang’s dark web blog says that crooks took over 700 GB of data, including agreements, financial records, and other sensitive information.

Mazars Group is an international professional services provider headquartered in Paris, France. However, the company maintains a global presence, boasting staff exceeding 47,000 professionals and yearly revenue of over $2 billion.

via Cybernews

Mazars did not respond to Cybernews’ request for comment.

EY UK will let Chair Hywel Ball stay on past retirement age, coming as a shock to anyone who thought he’d be among the many thrown under the bus for Everest:

EY has extended the tenure of its UK boss Hywel Ball, allowing him to work beyond the firm’s mandatory retirement age of 60 and launch a cull of its executive leadership just weeks after the collapse of a plan to split its global business in two.

Ball’s future had been cast into doubt after his backing of EY’s failed attempt to split its audit and consulting divisions globally. The UK board decided to extend his tenure before the plan, codenamed Project Everest, unravelled last month, people at the firm told the Financial Times.

No idea why this is news but you know what, let’s signal boost it anyway. ‘Grats, Alec.

Widmer Roel hires Alec Tolson as an Audit Associate

Alec Tolson has joined Widmer Roel, a local public accounting and business advisory firm, assisting the audit department. As an Audit Associate at Widmer Roel, Alec provides audit and assurance services to a wide range of clients, with a focus on government entities.

Alec previously worked for a regional accounting firm and has two years of experience.

Tolson is a graduate from Minnesota State University Moorhead where he earned a Bachelor’s in Accounting and a Masters in Accounting and Finance.

Last week, Bloomberg News wrote about crypto companies and their audits — specifically a survey of 60 crypto companies showed that around 46% of the 24 firms that disclosed information about their present auditor said their full financial audits were completed by a Big 4 firm. Three said Deloitte does their annual audits (Coinbase, Circle and Ripple), three others (Chainalysis, Ledger and Anchorage Digital) are clients of EY.

Watcher Guru references the Bloomberg survey in 46% of Audited Crypto Companies Work with KPMG, EY, Deloitte, PwC:

Several companies with their feet immersed in the crypto space have targeted the Big Four Audit firms PwC, KPMG, EY and Deloitte for being either unwilling or unequipped to take care of the books of their complex business. In a recent conference in London, Noah Perlman, Binance’s Chief Compliance Officer, said,

“They want nothing more than to work with Binance and other players in the industry. But when they go to their internal risk committees, some of them face obstacles in terms of can they work with us, do they want to work with us.”

However, a recent survey by Bloomberg conflicted the argument. Out of the companies that disclosed details about their current auditor, 46% of them revealed they are working with one of the Big Four companies. Specifically, Bloomberg pointed out,

“Their roster includes the likes of crypto exchanges Coinbase and Bitpanda, stablecoin operator Circle, crypto brokerage Galaxy Digital and blockchain payments firm Ripple — indicating that Big Four firms do have both the desire and the capacity to audit crypto businesses.”

Deloitte’s Big Bets On Google Generative AI, ‘Proactive’ Workforce Transformation:

“Clearly, we are at an inflection point in terms of technology evolution and AI in general,” said longtime Deloitte executive Gopal Srinivasan, who helps lead the company’s new Generative AI practice. “Generative AI is pulling forward the entire discipline of AI. Google and Deloitte have been working ahead of several things that are now coming out in public.”

“A lot of the benefit of generative AI is about augmenting human capability and advancing it. So that also requires humans to relearn the way they do things,” said Srinivasan. “These technologies allow you to drive more productivity, but it’s also going to require proactive workforce transformation.”

In more Deloitte news, the firm has opened three new offices in India:

Deloitte US-India Offices on Sunday announced the opening of three new delivery offices in Pune, Chennai, and Kolkata to serve companies globally. This move is in response to the growing demand for skilled professionals across Deloitte’s advisory businesses.

In the coming year, over 10,000 skilled professionals specialising in various areas such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud, human capital, assurance, tax, valuations, and mergers & acquisitions will operate from these locations, the firm said in a statement.

The organisation plans to continue to invest in people with a focus on innovative approaches to support learning, digital skills development, and training opportunities, the statement added.

Deloitte recognises the exceptional talent available in India and the increasing opportunities in business services exports. The country’s skilled workforce is being sought after by global organisations for high-end work, highlighting the specialised and nuanced skill sets available.

That’s all I’ve got for now, bit quiet out there today other than the many, many headlines about PwC’s growing troubles on the other side of the equator. If you see anything worth writing about, gimme a shout. Later.