KPMG fined $450m over tax shelters

KPMG has been fined $456m (£255m) but escaped immediate prosecution in
connection with what the US Department of Justice called ‘the largest ever tax
shelter fraud’.

In return for deferred prosecution KPMG has agreed to pay the fines,
cooperate fully with further government investigations and establish a
compliance and ethics program intended to prevent the firm from repeating the
same offences.

A Department of Justice spokesman said nine partners from the firm who
allegedly participated in the tax shelter scheme have been indicted and will
face charges of creating tax shelters, preparing false tax returns and hiding
their actions from the Internal Revenue Service.

Attorney general Alberto Gonzales said this was a case in which the DOP’s new
task force on corporate fraud ‘ was able to detect and punish the kind of
corruption found at KPMG, and in doing so, help to restore a level of faith and
confidence in the honest and transparent business practices that have made ours
the greatest economy in the world’.

The news brings to end specualtion over the firm’s future as a result of the
tax shelter investigation. A criminal conviction for the firm would have brought
a ban in many US states from holding an audit licence.

The investigation alarmed authorities that it might reduce the current Big
Four auditors to a Big three creating major problems over conflicts of interest.

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