Just four accountancy firms – PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte & Touche and Ernst & Young – audit 97 per cent of FTSE 350 companies and around 99 per cent of the London Stock Exchange's FTSE 100. 
Controversies and conflicts of interest
Secondments to the UK Treasury
In 2013 a report by the influential UK Commons public accounts committee (PAC) 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 and former Labour minister 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.
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".
'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. As of April 2015, KPMG had contributed £561,763. 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.
Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex writes:
- "With the aid of accountancy firms, numerous corporate transactions are manufactured for the purpose of avoiding taxes. KPMG has admitted selling "unlawful" tax avoidance schemes that effectively deprived US public funds of billions of dollars. The firm has been fined nearly $500m as a result. Several of its ex-partners face the prospect of criminal prosecutions.
- "The same firms also peddle a range of avoidance schemes in the UK, which are estimated to cost the state £100bn each year in possible tax revenues. KPMG developed a VAT avoidance scheme for a company operating 127 amusement arcades in the UK... The scheme increased the firm's earnings by about £4.2m - about the amount needed to provide 2,500 NHS hip replacements. The ensuing court hearing learned that, in common with its US practices, KPMG cold-called the amusement arcade operator to sell the scheme. The firm produced a 16-page booklet that listed 83 detailed steps necessary to make it work. The firm suspected that Customs might regard the scheme as "unacceptable tax avoidance", but nevertheless sold it. Following a UK court defeat, KPMG and its client took the case to the European court of justice. A preliminary decision by the EU advocate-general has declared the scheme to be "unacceptable"." 
Representation in the European Commission
Georges Bock, managing partner of KPMG Luxembourg, and Gérard Laures, partner at KPMG Luxembourg, represent The Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry and Kevin Charlton, tax director at KPMG, represents The Alternative Investment Management Association on the European Commission's Expert Group on automatic exchange of financial account information. The aim of the group is to assist the EU member states on tax laws and collecting the full amount of tax owed to them.
Political donations and hospitality
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.
Jacqui Smith, former Labour Home Secretary became a consultant in October 2010, six months after leaving politics, a position that was cleared by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. She held this until June 2011.  According to the Daily Mail, KPMG had "won an important government contract while Smith was Home Secretary when it was commissioned to carry out a major study into whether drink industry giants were breaking guidelines on the sale of alcohol". 
- KPMG currently uses FTI Consulting for its public affairs activities.
- KPMG Jersey uses Weber Shandwick for its public affairs activities in 2011.
- Simon Collins, chairman and senior partner
- Jim Marsh, chief operating officer and head of people
- Tony Cates, head of audit
- Karen Briggs, head of tax, pensions and legal services
- Richard Fleming, head of advisory
- Bill Michael, head of markets (financial services)
- Iain Moffatt, head of markets (national)
- Richard Gostling, head of markets (corporates, government, private equity)
- Marianne Fallon, head of corporate affairs
- David Matthews, head of quality and risk
- Jane McCormick, global banking tax industry leader. McCormick is a member of the Treasury's Tax Professionals Forum.
- Paul Harrison, head of corporate tax, Midlands. Former inspector of taxes at HM Revenue & Customs.
- Andrew Lister, corporate finance director.
- Anthony Lobo, partner, head of oil & gas EMEA.
- Emma Wild, head of upstream advisory practice.
- Chris Davidson, director, tax management consulting - where he draws on his 'extensive experience at HMRC to advise clients on governance, tax risk and controls, and also dispute resolution'. Before joining KPMG, Davidson was head of HM Revenue and Customs Anti-Avoidance Group, looking at those trying to avoid tax avoidance.
- Justin Blackburn, director, tax management consulting team. Before joining KPMG, Blackburn was responsible for tax reporting in Europe, Middle East and Africa for Macquarie.
- Paul Kirby, global head of government. Kirby joined KPMG in 2005, and had a two year spell as head of the UK Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street from 2011 to 2013.
- Charles Clarke. The former home secretary was employed by KPMG in 2008 on a one year contract to advise on 'public service reforms'.
- Jacqui Smith. The former home secretary began working as a consultant to KPMG in 2010. Is currently chair of public affairs practice at lobbyists Westbourne Communications.
- Tamasin Cave, The privatising cabal at the heart of our NHS Spinwatch, 1 April 2015.
- Treasury insiders help rich avoid tax, say MPs - video, Source: ITN Length: 2min 11secs, 26 April 2013.
- Donations from the Big Four under the Coalition Government
Main London offices:
8 Salisbury Square
London, EC4Y 8BB
15 Canada Square
London, E14 5GL
- ↑ KPMG websiteWho We Are, UK, accessed April 2010,
- ↑ Prem Sikka, Called to account, The Guardian, 14 December 2008
- ↑ Prem Sikka, Auditors must be held to account, The Guardian, 31 May 2012
- ↑ Rajeev Syal, Simon Bowers and Patrick Wintour, firms 'use knowledge of Treasury to help rich avoid tax' – MPs The Guardian, Friday 26 April 2013, acc 12 June 2013
- ↑ Carlos Martin Tornero Labour to win, if Big Four donation patterns become self-fulfilling prophecy The Accountant, 5 May 2015, accessed 18 May 2015.
- ↑ Gilt-edged profits for profession's 'big four', Guardian, 7 February 2009
- ↑ Prem Sikka, Accountants: a threat to democracy, Guardian, 5 September 2005
- ↑ For more on KPMG and tax avoidance see: Sheltering cash: the intricate schemes drawn up by KPMG.
- ↑ The Tax Gap, Sheltering cash: the intricate schemes drawn up by KPMG, Guardian, 7 February 2009
The Tax Gap, series of articles on tax avoidance, The Tax Gap, Guardian, 2009
- ↑ European Commission Commission Expert Group on automatic exchange of financial account information, accessed 4 May 2015.
- ↑ Bureau for Investigative Journalism, Top ten:Companies, 10 June 2013
- ↑ Jamie Doward Fears grow over ‘land grab’ of NHS by private suppliers Guardian, 2 May 2015, accessed 4 May 2015.
- ↑ Jacqui Smith, LinkedIn profile, acc 11 June 2013
- ↑ Geoffrey Levy, Tony's cronies and snouts in the trough: How one-time Labour bigwigs are raking it in thanks to the private sector, 10 June 2011, acc 28 Sept 2011
- ↑ Register 1st December 2014 - 28th February 2015 APPC, accessed 9 March 2015
- ↑ APPG Register May 2012
- ↑ STEP Private Client Awards: Winners for 2011/12, acc 26 Sept 2011
- ↑ Gov.UK Tax Professionals Forum, accessed 15 June 2015.
- ↑ Linkedin Paul Harrison, accessed 15 June 2015.
- ↑ Linkedin Andy Lister, accessed 15 June 2015.
- ↑ Linkedin Anthony Lobo, accessed 15 June 2015.
- ↑ Linkedin Emma Wild, accessed 15 June 2015.
- ↑ Linkedin Chris Davidson, accessed 15 June 2015.
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ Linkedin Paul Kirby, accessed 15 June 2015.
- ↑ Penny Sukhraj KPMG hires former home secretary, Charles Clarke, Accountancy Age, 11 April 2008, accessed 15 June 2015.
- ↑ Richard Eden Jacqui Smith wins lucrative jobs with Labour's friends Telegraph, 31 October 2010, accessed 15 June 2015.
- ↑ Linkedin Jacqui Smith, accessed 15 June 2015.