A group of whistle-blowers has questioned the Narendra Modi government’s move to appoint PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in key projects and even the investigation into black money.
The Citizens Whistle Blowers Forum said here on Tuesday that the professional services firm had been found guilty by parliamentary committees, various investigation agencies and courts, but its “government business is growing by leaps and bounds”.
The founding members of the Citizens Whistle Blowers Forum are Justice (Retd.) A.P. Shah, Aruna Roy, E.A.S. Sharma, Admiral (Retd.) L. Ramdas, Prashant Bhushan and former Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah.
In a statement, PwC denied the claims. “We deny the allegations made. PwC has always complied and will continue to comply with applicable laws and regulations and any suggestion to the contrary is merely speculative,” the firm said in a statement to The Hindu.
Mr. Bhushan said PwC had a significant role now in investigations into black money, Smart Cities, Digital India, and Make in India. He also raised questions about the Reserve Bank of India engaging PwC to audit its systems.
“The governments want to give credibility to their accounts through such audit firms. Which firms could be more pliable for them than one whose officials can be sent behind bars or fined thousands of crores,” Mr. Bhushan asked.
He said the Modi government appointed PwC as its consultant on black money investigations through the Income Tax Department. “This despite the firm found guilty by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), even RBI, CBI and other agencies,” he said. “It has also been involved in fudging its own accounts and filing false reports for companies such as Satyam and Global Trust Bank and Vijay Mallya’s firms.”
“Though a JPC recommended action against audit firms of PwC network, action has been pending for 14 years,” Mr. Bhushan said.
The Supreme Court on January 10 ordered the Securities and Exchange Board of India to expedite its inquiry against PwC in the Satyam scam. The case had been languishing for the past seven years, he said.