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Big Four investigated by Australian competition authority

The Big Four are being probed by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), over allegations of a lack of competition, according to The Australian Financial Review.

The probe is reportedly an extension of ongoing research by the ACCC, after the Australian Labor Party wrote to the ACCC in September requesting that they investigate the firms and the way they gain government contracts.

The ACCC then asked the Big Four to provide engagement letters, draft proposals, and other information related to public sector work as part of a preliminary inquiry to decide if a formal investigation is needed.

The concern was raised by Julian Hill, of the Labor party, over possible collusion between the Big Four on the possibility they coordinate fees, charging method and decisions on how they bid for government work, it is these issues that the ACCC is reportedly looking for evidence on.

Hill raised this concern after discovering private dinners had been held between the CEOs of the Big Four and then sent his request for an investigation to the ACCC. According to local reports at the time the ACCC, responding to the request, said: “Competitors are not precluded from meeting or talking with each other.”

The Big Four denied that any sensitive matters were discussed at the meetings.

The IAB has contacted the Big Four for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication. This story will be updated as and when any responses are received.

Similarly, in the UK, there is currently an investigation being conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA has conducted its initial review and has suggested wide ranging reforms such as the introduction of joint audits and creating a further divide between audit and non-audit services.

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