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  1. Big Four
March 2, 2018

Former partners at KPMG and PwC accused of sexual harassment

By Stephanie Wix

A former partner at KPMG South Australia has left the firm following an investigation over a sexual harassment claim against him, while a former PwC UK partner accused of sexual harassment is suing the firm for £5m (USD $6.8m) for unfair dismissal.

KPMG Australia national chairman Alison Kitchen said the firm was "incredibly disappointed and frustrated" at the partner’s behaviour, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Kitchen told FairFax Media they had a “textbook response” with an investigation, communicating with staff for safety and understanding, and involvement of the CEO and board. KPMG Australia CEO Gary Wingrove said in a statement to KPMG’s staff and partners that KPMG had fully investigated and addressed the matter as the individual no longer works at the firm.

The news follows a separate investigation into a sexual harassment claim against a managing partner at EY Adelaide. A Former KPMG partner and managing partner at EY since 2015 Don Manifold, was suspended in January on full pay following the allegations made by a junior female staff member, who had also been suspended in December over allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Meanwhile a former PwC UK partner is suing the firm for £5m claiming unfair dismissal on the grounds of race and age after being forced to resign over sexual harassment allegations. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was accused of sexually assaulting a colleague at an Italian ski resort event attended by 50 PwC staff members.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the unnamed partner who is in his 60s allegedly assaulted a female colleague after consuming a significant amount of alcohol at a fancy dress party. He claimed that he did not remember the incident due to blacking out from the alcohol.

The firm began disciplinary procedures in March 2016 and he took forced retirement in May 2016. A spokesperson for PwC said that they reject the allegations that age or race had any bearing whatsoever on the decision.

At the tribunal, PwC's barrister asked whether the partner was aware of his actions considering he could not remember anything, to which the partner replied “I didn't do anything she is claiming I did”. He claimed that PwC had already decided to retire him for being Indian and beyond retirement age before the disciplinary process had concluded. The tribunal continues.

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