Raymond Doherty 7 Aug 2019 04:58pm

Australian parliamentary inquiries into Big Four opened

PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG face two new parliamentary inquiries in Australia

The first is a “broad-ranging” inquiry looking at the quality, regulation and market for corporate audits; conflicts of interest within the Big Four firms; and the performance of regulators.

It is being led by Australian parliament’s joint committee on corporations and financial services and is due to be completed in March.

The second is centred on the extent of use of contractors and consultants – including the Big Four – for government privatisation programs.

In addition, a third probe, according to a report in Australian Financial Review, is being opened into the country’s defence department awarding of a new $2.6m (£1.4m) contract to EY in the same week as the Senate voted to examine the firm’s hiring of former defence minister Christopher Pyne.

Earlier this year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) closed its probe into anti-competitive behaviour among the Big Four.

In February, the watchdog requested information from Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC as an initial step to see if a formal investigation was warranted, following allegations of “cartel-like behaviour”.

The probe was looking for evidence that the firms had coordinated on pricing, charging methods or decisions regarding bidding on government contracts.
Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, stated in a letter this week that the authority had not found sufficient evidence to proceed with its investigation.

Over the past two years a raft of investigations and reviews into quality of audit, regulation, competition, and splitting up the Big Four have been launched in the UK.