Reports: PwC Is Withdrawing From Russia and Belarus (UPDATE)

[UPDATE] PwC Global Chairman Bob Moritz released this statement a little over an hour ago confirming that PwC is pulling out of Russia:

We all continue to be shocked and horrified by the senseless war that the Russian government is inflicting on Ukraine and its people. As we galvanized to find ways in which we can help, our main focus has been helping our Ukrainian colleagues and supporting the humanitarian efforts to aid the people of Ukraine. I am proud of how we have come together across our network to support those in need, donating money, taking colleagues and their families into homes and reaching out with messages of support.

But helping Ukrainian colleagues is just part of our responsibility. Last week we set our position deploring the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine. Since then we have also been thinking about how we can take action in the way we run our network.

We have decided that, under the circumstances, PwC should not have a member firm in Russia and consequently PwC Russia will leave the Network.

As we implement this, we will maintain our focus on doing all we can to help our Ukrainian colleagues and support the humanitarian efforts to aid the people of Ukraine who have been devastated by this invasion.

We are also committed to working with our colleagues at PwC Russia to undertake an orderly transition for the business and with a focus on the well being of our 3,700 colleagues in PwC Russia.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine.

Bob Moritz, Global Chairman

However, Moritz didn’t address a report by the Financial Times today that PwC Belarus was also exiting PwC’s network of firms. According to FT, PwC’s newly independent Russian and Belarusian operations will be renamed and be free to continue working for local clients as well as serving international companies with operations in those countries.

[Original article posted Sunday afternoon.]

According to multiple reports, PwC is leaving Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine—making it the first of the Big 4 to distance itself from its Russian-member firm. PwC is set to make it official on Monday, according to Bloomberg.

The Wall Street Journal reported this afternoon:

“We have decided that, under the circumstances, PwC should not have a member firm in Russia and have agreed with PwC Russia that it will leave the PwC Network,” Bob Moritz, the firm’s global chairman, wrote in an email to staff. “We know this is the right thing to do, but that doesn’t make it easy.”

PwC said it has 3,000 partners and staff in the country, where it has operated for more than 30 years. PwC Russia is locally owned but has participated in the firm’s network, collaborating on client work.

“They did not ask for this senseless war,” Mr. Moritz wrote.

PwC employees were told in the email that all PwC member firms would stop working with any Russian entities or individuals subject to sanctions, according to the WSJ. Both the WSJ and Bloomberg also reported that PwC was committed to the well-being of its 3,700 employees in Russia and would work to ensure a smooth transition for the business.

In addition, according to the Financial Times, PwC is also kicking out of its network a member firm in another country that supports Vlad Putin’s war against Ukraine:

PwC  said its member firm in Belarus would also exit the network.

PwC’s Russian operations will continue to operate as a standalone firm with no official link to the global brand.

Now that PwC is pulling out of Russia, the dominoes will start to fall, and we expect the other Big 4 firms to announce the same this week or shortly thereafter. [KPMG also announced Sunday afternoon that it was severing ties with its member firms in Russia and Belarus.] Before this news broke today about PwC and KPMG, Deloitte had been the only Big 4 firm that said it was “currently reviewing our business and presence in Russia,” hinting last week that it was considering cutting ties with its member firm there.

Last week, Grant Thornton became the first large global accounting firm to leave Russia behind, announcing that its affiliate in Russia, FBK, was leaving the GT network of firms as a result of the invasion of Ukraine. There was also a comment in a post on Fishbowl last week that RSM had pulled out of Russia as well. If you go on RSM Russia’s website, all that’s there currently is an email address for media inquiries. We have reached out to RSM for comment about its operations in Russia but have yet to hear back from the firm.

We’ll update this article as the situation develops.

Related articles:

KPMG Is Pulling the Plug On Its Operations In Russia and Belarus
Big 4 Firms Condemn Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, But Will They Sever Relationships With Any Russian Clients?
Grant Thornton Drops Its Russian Affiliate Over Conflict In Ukraine
Ex-Big 4 Partner On Why the Big 4 Firms Should Pull Out of Russia: ‘It’s the Right Thing to Do and You Know It’

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