An arm of disgraced consultancy PwC provides “advice to government” on “Indigenous matters” — and has been given more than $44 million in Federal Government contracts.
The entity, “PwC’s Indigenous Consulting”, provides “advice to government” on “Indigenous matters” and “aims to be an emblem for Indigenous self-determination”, its website says.
It has been extremely — and increasingly — successful in attracting Federal Government contracts, official filings reveal.
PwC’s Indigenous Consulting has been awarded $44.58m in Federal Government contracts since 2015.
In 2022 alone it was given Federal contracts of $13.78m, almost double any other year.
Fueling its success has been more than $14m in “limited tender” contracts — including more than $10m awarded under a procurement regime for small Indigenous businesses.
Investigations reveal PwC’s Indigenous Consulting has been given dozens of the “limited tender” contracts, totaling $10.03m, on grounds it is a “SME with at least 50 per cent Indigenous ownership”.
The Federal Government’s procurement register AusTender shows it was given nine “limited tender” contracts just in 2022.
Two of those contracts, totaling $1.125m, were from the Department of Treasury, with the purpose stated simply as “management advisory services”.
Both filings state: “Limited Tender Exemption…SME (small to medium enterprise) with at least 50 percent Indigenous ownership”.
The revelations come as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese today announced October 14 as the date for the referendum on creating an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, which would provide a permanent platform for Indigenous Australians to provide advice to government on Indigenous issues.
One of the two Treasury contracts awarded last year. Source: AusTender
Also among the “limited tender” deals given to PwC’s Indigenous Consulting was a contract awarded by the Department of Social Services in February last year for “policy and program development services”.
It was was for exactly “$200,000.00”.
Another Social Services contract was “amended” nine times – each time its value was increased.
Starting at $1.22m in March 2019, it was ultimately increased to $4.34m in June 2021.
Each “amendment” — which requires a new contract — is marked “Limited Tender…SME with at least 50 per cent Indigenous ownership”.
PwC is one of the world’s largest businesses.
When The Klaxon approached PwC Australia, spokesman Patrick Lane said PwC’s Indigenous Consulting “is not part of PwC Australia”.
“It is its own entity,” he said.
“PIC is not part of PwC Australia” — Patrick Lane, PwC Australia
Source: PwC Australia
That’s despite its name, that its directors include PwC Australia partners, that it shares a website with PwC — and that it’s based inside PwC’s offices.
Filings with corporate regulator the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) show its full legal name is “PriceWaterhouseCoopers Indigenous Consulting Pty Limited” and that it’s 51 per cent owned by a private company called MAAR Investment Holdings.
The remaining 49 per cent is owned by PwC.
The entity’s address, and its “principal place of business”, is “Level 17, 100 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo, NSW” — PwC Australia’s headquarters.
It was created in August 2013, shortly after Luke Sayers was appointed PwC Australia CEO.
Sayers was PwC Australia CEO from mid-2012 to mid-2020, and so for the entire tax leaks affair.
PwC has been caught taking secret government data it gleaned while providing “advice” on new laws to prevent multinationals avoiding Australian tax — and selling it for millions of dollars to multinationals seeking to avoid Australian tax.
It is not possible to determine how much money PwC has made from PwC’s Indigenous Consulting – PwC is refusing to provide us with a copy of its audited accounts.
But it owns 49% of all profits made by PwC’s Indigenous Consulting, including from the $44.58m in revenue from Federal Government contracts alone since 2015.
Detailed analysis of the over 100 AusTender filings for PwC’s Indigenous Consulting since 2015 shows they are extremely similar to those for PwC Australia, which has been given hundreds of millions of dollars a year in Federal contracts.
The entries are littered with hefty “amendments” — which almost always heavily increase the originally agreed cost to taxpayers — and they cover a very wide range of “services” provided.
One “limited tender exemption” contract is with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for “cloud software services”.
It was initially to cost taxpayers $244,751.49 – but it ended up costing $378,586.49, after an upwards “amendment” of $133,835.39.
The website for PwC’s Indigenous Consulting — at pwc.com.au — states the entity aims to “enable positive change” by providing “advice” on “Indigenous matters”.
“Our aim is to help enable positive change by providing trusted professional services and advice to government, corporate and community clients on Indigenous matters,” it states.
Contract for “policy and program development services” increased nine times. Source: AusTender
PwC Australia’s Lane directed The Klaxon to PWC’s Indigenous Consulting’s CEO Gavin Brown.
“PwC Indigenous Consulting (PIC) is a separate organisation to PwC Australia — we are a Supply Nation Certified business (ie. greater than 50% ownership by Indigenous peoples),” wrote Brown.
“We have prioritised our people and purposes before profit, which has enabled us to grow from a start-up of just over a handful of people in October 2013, to a business which is now approximately 75 people, more than 50% of whom are themselves indigenous peoples”.
We asked how much profit the entity had made, and how much went to PwC.
Brown responded: “We have never declared or paid a dividend”.
Whether or not dividends have been paid – that is, whether profits have been draw down – has no relation to what profits have been earned by the company.
Rather, the profits simply remain in the company until they are drawn down.
PwC Indigenous Consulting is not required to file audited annual accounts with ASIC because it is considered a “small proprietary company” because it has annual revenue of less than $100m.
That means it’s not possible to determine key information such as how much it paid in executive salaries, what its “related party” dealings are — and how much profit it has accrued.
We asked Brown for a copy of the 2022 audited accounts of PwC’s Indigenous Consulting.
Like PwC Australia, Brown refused.
Brown said PwC’s Indigenous Consulting was “a small Indigenous business”. He said it was “not required to lodge financial statements with ASIC” given it had revenues below $100m a year.
We said we were aware of this.
We requested the accounts “for the purpose of transparency”, given PwC’s Indigenous Consulting had received tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds (including $13.78m just in 2022).
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