UK public interest and transparency lobby group Public Interest Investigations (PII) recently published a somewhat perturbing paper on the activities and dubious role of the ‘Big 4’ accounting firms. The report aptly titled – Who Really Runs this Place? takes a look at some of the relationships between the Big 4 accountancy firms and the UK government. It examines some of their lobbying activity: on their own behalf to block much-needed reforms of the industry that they dominate; at some of the lobbying they have undertaken to protect the tax avoidance industry; and at their role as lobbyists-for-hire.
Who Really Runs this Place? reveals how:
- At least 50 employees of the Big 4 have been on loan to the government in the past three years;
- One of the Big 4, lobbies for tax breaks for its clients – a service that it describes as a ‘low risk alternative’ to tax avoidance – while at the same time advising the Treasury on reform of the tax system;
- They successfully lobbied the British government to oppose new EU rules designed to improve audit standards and challenge the monopoly of the Big 4;
- They are profiting from changes to government policy, changes that are made by government departments that they are contracted to;
- Lobbying by the Big 4 accountancy giants – either on their own behalf or for clients – is unlikely to be included in the forthcoming register of lobbyists.
You can also watch Spinwatch’s new Big 4 film here!
… well, as this example shows, it is certainly not the meek who are inheriting … power is clearly in the auditor’s pen. P