9 April 2024

Deloitte follows PwC in search for independent board members

| Chris Johnson
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More of the big four consultancies are deciding to appoint independent members to their boards. Photo: File.

Deloitte Australia has followed PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG and will appoint independent members to its board.

As the fallout from PwC Australia’s massive breach of trust against the Federal Government continues, the big four consultancy firms are sustainedly in the spotlight.

Inquiries in the federal and NSW parliaments continue into the practices of the accountancy giants – Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and EY.

These inquiries, along with other independent reviews, have so far revealed a culture of ‘money rules’ and ‘win at all costs’ at the highest levels of management.

To present the appearance of trying to counter that behaviour, the big firms have begun looking to appoint independent board members to provide external perspectives to corporate governance.

KPMG’s 12-person board includes three independent members (including former NSW premier Mike Baird), while PwC has announced plans to include three independent members on its nine-person board.

READ ALSO Senators condemn PwC for continuing to cover up its behaviour

PwC Australia’s decision to find suitable independent directors comes from accepting a recommendation from last year’s review by Ziggy Switkowski into its culture.

The latest is Deloitte, which has just revealed its intention to appoint independent members to its 10-person board but hasn’t yet stipulated how many.

“The process for identifying independent board members will commence in June following the completion of our 2024 board election process,” Deloitte’s outgoing chair Tom Imbesi said.

“This decision comes as a result of a recent survey of our partners who expressed broad support for the appointment of independent board members who would have skills that are complementary to the existing board skills and able to provide external perspectives and diverse points of view to the board.

“Independent board members are permitted by the Deloitte partnership agreement and we believe this is an appropriate time to evolve our firm’s governance in line with the expectations of our partners and external stakeholders.”

Mr Imbesi completes his term as board chair on 31 May. He will be replaced by John Greig, currently serving as the board’s deputy chair.

Mr Greig will commence as Deloitte Australia’s new chair on 1 June.

“I want to thank Tom for his outstanding leadership and oversight of the firm since 2017,” Mr Greig said when his appointment was announced.

“He successfully navigated the firm through one of our most challenging times during the COVID pandemic, and he continues to lead the firm with distinction.

“I’m honoured to have been elected incoming chair of Deloitte Australia at a pivotal time for professional services.

“The board’s role is to provide robust governance over our firm and set the tone to maintain and enhance the trust of our internal and external stakeholders.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with my fellow board members to help guide the firm through this period of significant change.”

READ ALSO Bully bosses in parliament could soon face fines and suspensions

PwC Australia sold off its government work – state and federal – after it was caught red-handed leaking highly confidential Treasury information from a project on which it was advising the Federal Government.

Scyne Advisory was born from the $1 sale of PwC’s government business arm to Allegro Funds to create the new consultancy firm.

In 2016, while a PwC partner advising the government on tax matters, Peter-John Collins allegedly revealed confidential Treasury information to executives throughout the consultancy firm and to its international clients, devising a scheme to help them avoid paying the very taxes he was helping to establish.

Mr Collins has since left the company and been deregistered by the Tax Practitioners Board. The fallout also saw the exit of other senior PWC officials, including its then-chief executive officer, Tom Seymour.

In May last year, Secretary to the Treasury Steven Kennedy referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police for investigation.
That investigation continues.

Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.

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