A partner at big four consulting giant Deloitte has stood down from his role while the corporate watchdog carries out a “confidential” investigation.
At a parliamentary hearing, Deloitte revealed that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) was investigating one of its bosses over unknown allegations.
Deloitte appeared at a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into consulting firms in August and the business was asked if any staff were the subject of an investigation from a third party. Other consulting firms were asked similar questions.
At the end of that month, Deloitte responded to the questions on notice, revealing that one individual who is a partner at the firm was under investigation and that it was considered a “reportable event” but did not go into any further details.
On Tuesday, ASIC confirmed to news.com.au that they have placed a notation on the public record about the partner, an auditor, regarding the ongoing investigation.
“Proceedings filed in the Companies Auditors Disciplinary Board are confidential until the Board publishes their decision and reasons,” the ASIC spokesman added.
“The matter related to ASIC initiating confidential Companies Auditors Disciplinary Board (CADB) proceedings against a partner of the firm,” Deloitte said in its submission to parliament.
A number of disclosures had to be made, including to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, while the partner himself also had to advise a body called Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CAANZ).
“The individual remains a partner of the firm but has agreed with ASIC not to perform the duties of a Registered Company Auditor whilst these proceedings are ongoing, or until receipt of further orders of the CADB,” Deloitte added.
The revelations come amid a reckoning in Australia’s consulting sector.
In June, revelations emerged that another big four accounting firm, PwC, used confidential information from the Treasury department to market tax avoidance schemes around the world.
The former chief executive of PwC and seven other partners were sacked for their alleged direct involvement in the leaking, or covering up, of confidential Treasury information.
Treasury referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police, while the firm began their own independent investigation.
This has sparked a NSW and federal inquiry into the consulting sector more broadly.
This is far from the first controversy to rock Deloitte and other major consulting firms.
In July, it emerged during the federal senate inquiry that dozens of partners and staff at KPMG, Deloitte and EY had lost their jobs over misconduct claims, including bullying and sexual harassment.
KPMG revealed there had been 88 internal complaints about staff micconduct in the last financial year, with 38 of those substantiated.
Eight partners at EY were sacked for similar reasons. EY had received 17 formal workplace complaints in that period of time, with 13 substantiated.
Deloitte said there were 13 instances of misconduct in the same period involving partners. Of those, four partners lost their jobs.