Critics are subtly questioning the integrity of global accounting firm, PwC. This is because the firm’s Angolan unit audited the accounts of Angola’s state-owned oil company – Sonangol – during the same time the company’s former Chairwoman (Isabel dos Santos) allegedly embezzled up to $1 billion.
The critics have also pointed out what they are saying raises conflict of interest concerns after PwC was found to have been auditing Sonangol’s accounts while at the same time collecting separate fees to render advisory services to the company on a restructuring process it was embarking on.
Even more controversial is the fact that PwC also audited, consulted for, and offered tax advisory for companies owned by Isabel dos Santos and her husband. Some of these companies are located in Angola, while others are in Switzerland, the Netherlands and other foreign countries where the embattled billionaire has been accused of moving her stolen money to.
The Guardian UK reported that popular University of Sheffield Accounting professor, Prem Sikka, is one of those criticising PwC for its alleged role in facilitating Dos Santos’ crimes against the Angolan state. He was quoted as saying that “there is a clear conflict of interest… There should be a major investigation into this.”
In the meantime, PwC is fighting to distance itself from the scandal. Earlier this week while attending the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, PwC’s group Chairman, Bob Moritz, was asked to talk about the development. He told reporters that one of the worst things that have happened under his leadership is PwC being tied to the scandal engulfing Africa’s richest woman.
Bob Moritz went further to issue a stern warning that some people’s jobs could suffer because of this revelation. In other words, some of those that were involved in the auditing of Sonangol during the controversial period under consideration, could either lose their jobs or get demoted.
From all indications, it appears that Mr Moritz has already made good his threat. This is because PwC’s tax Lead in Angola and Portugal, Jaime Esteves, resigned shortly after revelations were made of how Dos Santos illegally amassed her $2.1 billion.
You may catch up on all the controversies trailing Isabel dos Santos by following this link.
Also note that PwC is one of the four biggest accounting firms in the world. The company has operations in over 150 countries, including Nigeria.