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New York regulator suspends PwC consulting unit for two years

New York’s Department of Financial Services said Monday that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Regulatory Advisory Services has been suspended for two years for helping whitewash a sanctions and anti-money laundering compliance report from the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi (BTMU).

The 24-months suspension prohibits PwC from accepting consulting engagements at financial institutions regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).

As part of the enforcement action, PwC must also make a $25 million payment to the State of New York.

“Under pressure from BTMU executives, PwC removed a warning in an ostensibly “objective” report to regulators surrounding the Bank’s scheme to falsify wire transfer information for Iran, Sudan, and other sanctioned entities,” the New York regulator said.

NYDFS Superintendent Benjamin M. Lawsky said: “When bank executives pressure a consultant to whitewash a supposedly ‘objective’ report to regulators — and the consultant goes along with it — that can strike at the very heart of our system of prudential oversight.”

A year-long DFS investigation uncovered evidence that PwC altered an “historical transaction review” report submitted to regulators on wire transfers by the bank for sanctioned countries and entities, the NYDFS said.

Two PwC partners responsible for supervising the historical transaction review are now both retired, the New York regulator said.

A PwC director who led the firm’s technology and data collection team is now a PwC partner.

The NYDFS said the director often “made statements in emails to PwC partners and employees that elevated his apparent concern for client satisfaction over the need for objective inquiry.”

“No one at PwC reprimanded or even told director that his comments were inappropriate because they drew the firm’s objectivity seriously into question,” the regulator said.

During its suspension, PwC has agreed to “implement a series of reforms to help address conflicts of interest in the consulting industry.”

The New York Department of Financial Services August 18, 2014 release is here.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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