Nick Shaxson ■ Quote of the day: big accountancy firms have a human rights problem


From Prem Sikka our quote of the day comes from an article entitled Big accountancy firms have a human rights problem:

“In many other organisations such subversion of the human rights would be considered to be a badge of shame. At major accountancy firms it is increasingly considered to be a sign of business acumen.”

This follows news that the Big Four firms of global accountants clubbed together officially to publish an advertisement denouncing the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement in the name of competitiveness. We are delighted to see now that the South China Morning Post is reporting that Big Four employees have now taken out an advertisement of their own disowning the advertisement.

“You boss, your statement does not represent our stance
. . .
The Chinese words for “you boss” are printed in much bigger characters – the term, in Cantonese, can also mean an expression of anger bordering on vulgarity, hinting at the strong sentiments behind the unusual public comment”

Excellent to hear: excellent.

Sikka’s article looks at the companies’ appalling and explicitly anti-democratic behaviour recently trumpeted by the collective Big Four in Hong Kong, and contains such rotten peaches as this one:

“Last year the Big Four firms became the subject of a hearing by the UK public accounts committee. Just before the hearing the committee received evidence from a former senior PwC employee stating that within the firm the policy was that it would sell a tax avoidance scheme which had only a 25% chance of withstanding a legal challenge. As the committee chairperson put it ‘you are offering schemes to your clients – knowingly marketing these schemes – where you have judged there is a 75% risk of it then being deemed unlawful’. “

And that is, as Sikka reminds us, just the tip of the iceberg.

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