Top accounting firms urged to fire pro-riot staff

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/16 20:43:07

Distance themselves from statement calling for release of protesters

Photo: VCG

Industry insiders and Chinese netizens urged the top accounting firms to investigate people who claim to be their staff and fire employees found to have the wrong stance on the current Hong Kong situation, despite distancing themselves from a statement published in the city's Apple Daily newspaper on Friday requesting the release of arrested rioters.

The firms - KPMG, Ernst & Young (EY), Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are obligated to give an explanation as their business reputation has been hijacked by anonymous people who claim to be their employees, observers said. They said the firms should launch a formal investigation on the matter. 

The statement, the result of a crowdfunding campaign by people claiming to be accountants working at the four firms in Hong Kong, denounced comments made by senior executives of their firms in which illegal protests were condemned and tried to whitewash arrested rioters as "righteous guys," amid increasingly violent protests which bring huge damages to the city.

The statement said the public condemnation of protests by leaders of their respective firms only focus on their self-interests.

Deloitte said in a statement sent to the Global Times on late Friday that it respects the rights to express personal opinions in a peaceful and rational way, but clarified the statements does not represent the company's stance.

KPMG distanced itself from the Friday statement on Apple Daily, and reaffirmed its support for the rule of law and "one country, two systems" principle. It says it opposes all kinds of illegal behavior and violence. 

Also on Friday, PwC emphasized in a statement sent to the Global Times that the advertisement does not represent the firm's position. PwC said it firmly opposes any action and statement that challenge national sovereignty, and it condemns all violent and illegal activities, and misleading statements.

The statements by Deloitte,  KPMG and PwC come after EY sent a statement to the Global Times on Thursday night.

Photo: VCG

The EY statement reaffirmed support for the "one country, two systems" principle and the Basic Law of HKSAR. And EY had explicitly told its employees that the firm held a zero tolerance policy toward illegal activities.

In a separate statement it sent to the Global Times on Friday, EY said that it does not share the views expressed in the statement and strongly condemns the violence and illegal acts that have taken place in recent weeks throughout the city.

Wang Jun, Chief Economist at Zhongyuan Bank Co, told the Global Times on Friday that these companies, though having distanced themselves from these people who claimed to be their staff, remain under suspicion for tolerating the behavior.

They made no mention of what they would do to these people, who used the company's name in pursuit of their own political agenda, Wang said. "To prevent their reputation from deteriorating further, statements like these are far from persuasive." 

"Watch out! The Big Four might become the next Cathay Pacific," a netizen said on the Chinese Twitter-like social media. 

These firms are also facing a backlash from their employees who strongly condemn the move of radical protesters. A Hong Kong-based Deloitte employee, who talked on condition of anonymity, told the Global Times on Friday that no one should and can "hijack their companies with their political stance."

"What they say as an individual does not speak for me," the employee said. "They are hired by the firm to do a job, not to express their political opinions."


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