Britain’s Big Four auditors weighing a withdrawal from Russia as they are urged to cut ties with ‘pariah state’
- Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC together employ around 13,000 staff in Russia
- PwC is considering shutting all its operations
- Deloitte said it was ‘reviewing our business and presence in Russia’
- EY, which has 4,500 staff in the country, declined to comment
- KPMG did not respond to a request for comment
Britain’s Big Four auditors were last night weighing a withdrawal from Russia as they were urged to cut ties with the ‘pariah state’.
Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC together employ around 13,000 staff in Russia, and work for some of the country’s largest businesses.
But the Mail understands that PwC is considering shutting all its operations, in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s brutal attack on Ukraine. It has around 3,500 staff there, in 11 offices.
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Deloitte said it was ‘reviewing our business and presence in Russia’, while EY, which has 4,500 staff in the country, declined to comment. KPMG did not respond to a request for comment.
It came as London-headquartered law firm Linklaters announced plans to wind down its operations in Russia and close its Moscow office, which had been open since 1992.
All of the Big Four firms have headquarters in London, and international arms which span the world, with a major presence in Russia. They audit hundreds of companies in the country, including those hit with sanctions, such as Sberbank, Rosneft and Gazprombank.
And they are likely to be raking in millions of pounds every year from their Russian clients – many of which, like Sberbank, are owned by Putin’s government.
Other Russian firms are backed by oligarchs including Oleg Deripaska at En+ and Alexei Mordashov, who chairs Severstal.
Auditors are supposed to check a company’s accounts, and assess whether it is telling the truth about its income and outgoings. Former Tory Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘British auditors should leave Russia, and they will. They have to.’
He urged the auditors to have a ‘good long look’ at their clients’ finances and the work they had been doing, as they could be sitting on precious information about where Putin’s money comes from which they should share with the Government.
Bill Browder, the financier and campaigner instrumental in creating the Magnitsky Act to punish Russian human rights violators, called for a ‘total economic blockade on Russia because of Putin’s murderous actions’.
He said: ‘Any type of business action in Russia is implicit support [for Putin’s regime]. There’s a long list of companies who have recognised that and, at great financial cost, have withdrawn.
‘It would be absolutely against the national interest of the UK, the US and the West in general for these accounting companies to carry on doing business in Russia. They have a national and moral duty to withdraw and those companies who don’t should be shunned.’
Earlier this week, auditor Grant Thornton cut ties with FBK, its Russian arm which employs 500 people. Microsoft, JD Sports and marketing giant WPP were the latest businesses to sever ties with Russia yesterday.