Ernst and Young

Ernst & Young's London headquarters‎
Ernst & Young is one of the largest professional services firms in the world and one of the Big Four accountancy firms.

Just four accounting firms – PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte & Touche and Ernst & Young – audited 97 per cent of the FTSE 350 companies in 2008.[1]In mid-2012 they audited around 99 per cent of the FTSE 100 listed on the London Stock Exchange. [2]

In February 2013 Ernst & Young was recognised as 'the UK’s strongest accounting and business brand in the influential Superbrands annual league table for 2013'. [3]

In July 2013 the company announced it was globally changing its name to EY, however this was declared a 'rebranding megafail' after the Financial Times pointed out the same name was held by a 'racy Spanish magazine'.


Controversies and conflicts of interest

According to Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation, "Conflicts of interest are built into the very DNA of the big professional services firms. These companies are working with firms that need to be regulated and the government bodies that are regulating".

Tax avoidance

The Big Four accountancy firms were behind almost half of all known [tax] avoidance schemes, the Revenue (HMRC) said in 2006.[4]

Secondments to the UK Treasury

In 2013 a report by the influential UK Commons public accounts committee found that the Big Four were using knowledge gained from staff seconded to the Treasury "to help wealthy clients avoid paying UK taxes". The firms, it said, went on to "advise multinationals and individuals on how to exploit loopholes around legislation they had helped to write".

PAC committee chair Margaret Hodge said the accountancy firms' actions represented a "ridiculous conflict of interest". She called for the Treasury to stop accepting their staff to draw up new tax laws. "The large accountancy firms are in a powerful position in the tax world and have an unhealthily cosy relationship with government," she said.[5]

'Contributions' to parties

During the UK Coalition government the 'big four' firms have contributed almost £2.5 million to Britain's three main political parties. The contributions are listed as 'non-cash donations', representing the value of staff costs and services (secondments) such as consultancy or advisory and are provided to the party free of charge. Of the £2.5 million from the 'big four', the Labour Party received £1.5 million and the Liberal Democrats received £742,362. EY, traditionally a Conservative donor, did not contribute to any party this legislature with donations reportable to the Electoral Commission.

Under the previous Labour government, the Conservative Party received £1.7 million, including all of EY's £63,989 donation..[6]

Under investigation for audit client lobbying

In January 2013 sources told Reuters that the US Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating whether Ernst & Young had violated US auditor rules by letting its lobbying unit perform work for several major audit clients. The SEC declined to comment on whether it was looking into whether the Washington Council Ernst & Young unit had lobbied on behalf of its audit clients Amgen Inc (AMGN.O), CVS Caremark Corp (CVS.N) and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), which Reuters had first revealed in March 2012. [7]

Healthcare and privatisation of NHS

In 2015 NHS England announced a new list of approved suppliers to the NHS. The list is dominated by outsourcing giants Capita; management consultancies PwC and KPMG; and US health insurer UnitedHealth. NHS England insists the companies who are bidding for contracts to supply support services to the GP-led commission groups will supply a range of back office functions, cutting procurement times and allowing doctors to focus on how best to spend their £70bn share of the NHS budget.' All of the firms are members of the Commissioning Support Industry Group, a 'low-profile body that affords them regular access to the senior NHS officials overseeing the creation of the new market in commissioning services.' Other members of the Group include management firms Ernst and Young and McKinsey who have also been awarded prominent roles.[8]

People

  • Stephan Kuhn, Ernst & Young’s Europe, Middle East, India and Africa Tax Leader.
  • Debbie Nolan is Ernst & Young’s Americas Tax Controversy Leader.
  • Klaus von Brocke is Ernst & Young’s EU Direct Tax Leader. [11]
  • John Dixon - head of tax policy - gave evidence before the public accounts committee in 2013 [12]

Tax Policy Development team

  • Chris Sanger
  • Vincent Oratore
  • Chris Oates, leader of the Tax Controversy Risk Management practice at Ernst & Young. Before this he "spent over 20 years in HMRC, in the Large Business Services office, and latterly in charge of teams in Special Civil Investigations offices, which handle the most serious cases involving tax avoidance and evasion. Since joining Ernst & Young in 2003/04, he has helped clients, from FTSE 100 to high-net-worth individuals, successfully manage the enquiry process with HMRC".
  • Mark Bilsborough, Senior Manager in Tax Policy Development and the Deputy leader of the UK and Ireland Tax Policy practice. Over a decade’s experience working in HM Treasury and the European Commission: 'Working at the centre of Government and advising the Treasury’s Ministerial team on tax and other policy issues across domestic and European agendas, spanning more than 20 Budgets and Pre-Budget Reports'. [13]

Ernst & Young’s Global Tax Policy and Controversy Practice team

As of February 2013 includes recently-appointed, widely-known leaders of tax policy insight including:

  • Dr Jeffrey Owen, Senior Policy Adviser to its Global Vice-Chair of Tax, Dave Holtze appointed in June 2012, was previously Director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration (CTPA) at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • Steve Bill, former Chef de Cabinet of European Union Commissioner László Kovács from 2006 to 2009.
  • Michael Mundaca, former Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the U.S. Treasury from 2009 to 2011, advising Treasury Secretary Geithner on all matters relating to taxation. Prior to his appointment as Assistant Treasury Secretary, Mundaca served as the Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary for International Tax Affairs from 2007-2009, during both the Bush and Obama Administrations.
  • Partho Shome is the former Adviser to the Union Finance Minister, India and Chief Economist at Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. [14]

Clients

Registrar of consultant lobbyists

The register of consultant lobbyists documents all the clients on behalf of whom Ernst & Young have met with government ministers. The firm has been registered since March 2015, and their listings since 2015 are as follows:

January - March 2016

Rugby Football Union | WH Smith Retail Holdings Limited [15]

October - December 2015

General Motors UK Ltd [16]

July - September 2015

Mitsubishi

April - June 2015

No listing

January - March 2015

Cordant Group plc | Lloyds Bank plc | Prudential | Royal London Mutual Insurance Society | Rugby Football Union | Wintherthur Financial Services UK

Lobbying agencies

All-Party Parliamentary groups

Fracking interests

Frackrig larger.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project
Ernst and Young has produced various widely quoted reports on the potential of shale gas exploration in the UK and Europe including Cracking Europe’s shale gas potential, released 18 December 2013 and Shale gas in Europe- Revolution or evolution.

The firm acts as auditors for the largest UK fracking firm Igas Energy and for Riverstone Holdings who own approximately half of Cuadrilla Resources.

Resources

Contacts

London offices include:

Ernst & Young Becket House,
1 Lambeth Palace Road
London, SE1 7EU

1 More London Place,
London, SE1 2AF

References

  1. Prem Sikka, Called to account, Guardian, 14 December 2008
  2. Prem Sikka, Auditors must be held to account, The Guardian, 31 May 2012
  3. Ernst & Young is the strongest accounting and business brand in the UK, Ernst & Young press release, 25 February 2013, acc 26 February 2013. See also: http://www.superbrands.uk.com/
  4. Gilt-edged profits for profession's 'big four', Guardian, 7 February 2009
  5. Rajeev Syal, Simon Bowers and Patrick Wintour, [Accountancy firms 'use knowledge of Treasury to help rich avoid tax' – MPs] The Guardian, Friday 26 April 2013, acc 12 June 2013
  6. Carlos Martin Tornero Labour to win, if Big Four donation patterns become self-fulfilling prophecy The Accountant, 5 May 2015, accessed 18 May 2015.
  7. Dena Aubin, David Ingram and Sarah N. Lynch, Exclusive: Ernst & Young tightropes between audit, advocacy, Reuters, WASHINGTON | Thu Mar 8, 2012 3:22pm EST
  8. Jamie Doward Fears grow over ‘land grab’ of NHS by private suppliers Guardian, 2 May 2015, accessed 4 May 2015.
  9. Tax Journal, accessed April 2011
  10. Ernst & Young, Ernst & Young partner enters BBC list of UK’s top 100 most powerful women, press release 13 February 2013
  11. Ernst & Young’s European Tax Symposium: highlights – part 1, 14 June 2012
  12. Rajeev Syal, Simon Bowers and Patrick Wintour, Accountancy firms 'use knowledge of Treasury to help rich avoid tax' – MPs, The Guardian, 26 April 2013, acc same day
  13. Tax---TPD---Contact, Ernst & Young website, undated, acc 26 Feb 2013
  14. Jeffrey Owens appointed as Senior Tax Policy adviser to Ernst & Young, E & Y press release, Jun 8, 2012, acc 26 Feb 2012
  15. Ernst & Young profile 2016, Registrar of consultant lobbyists, accessed 3 May 2016
  16. Ernst & Young profile 2015, Registrar of consultant lobbyists, accessed 8 February 2016
  17. APPC Register Entry for 1 Mar 2012 to 31 May 2012; APPC Register Entry for 1 September 2012 to 30 November 2012, acc 26 February 2013
  18. Register 1st September 2014 - 30th November 2014 APPC, accessed 28 January 2015
  19. Advisory Board, All Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship website, acc 16 June 2013