‘Threat to the nation’: Further questions for Deloitte over former partner leaks

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Deloitte could face a repeat of its parliamentary grilling after revelations that a former partner was using Defence documents he obtained while working at the firm as part of his new private business.

A Senate committee investigating consulting services will consider hauling Deloitte back for another round of public questioning after senior executives from the firm gave evidence earlier this week.

Leaked emails reveal Canberra consultant David Milo used and shared documents he had accessed on major military contracts while in a senior role with Deloitte.Credit: The Age

Leaked emails that came to light after that appearance reveal Canberra consultant David Milo used and shared documents he had previously accessed on major military contracts while in a senior role for Deloitte with his new consulting firm, Synergy 360.

Milo said the documents were “completely innocuous” drafts and rejected claims they were used outside the firm to win contracts.

The documents included detailed draft findings from an army officer on ForceNet, a communications platform used in Defence, as well as a highly detailed Deloitte tender pitch.

The document written by the Defence officer was not allowed to leave Deloitte, and the consulting giant said it would immediately investigate.

Labor senator Deborah O’Neill said Australians could now see that unethical consultants were “a threat to the nation”.

“These allegations about Mr David Milo of Synergy 360, if proven, reveal an outrageous betrayal of trust with the Australian people,” she said in a statement.

“I will urge the committee to recall Deloitte so that we are able to further investigate this deeply concerning matter.”

O’Neill will raise the matter with the senate committee at a private meeting during the next sitting week of parliament, at the start of August. She was also considering questions on notice that will be put to Deloitte over the matter.

Liberal senator and committee chair Richard Colbeck welcomed a discussion about getting Deloitte to answer further questions.

“We’ve conducted this inquiry in a co-operative way all the way through,” he said. “I’m as disturbed [by the] allegations as anybody.”

Milo said the documents were not confidential or classified Defence material, and he had not provided them to clients. He said he had used his personal laptop for work while employed at Deloitte, which is why the documents were on his computer.

“They were both drafts … one of them was a Defence document I’d been asked to comment on, another was a document I’d been asked to draft while at Deloitte,” he said.

“And the allegation that they were confidential – neither of them were in any way marked confidential by Defence. They would have had headers and footers saying confidential … they were completely innocuous.”

Milo said the documents were used internally at Synergy 360 as examples of the sorts of documents that were required for defence work.

“But neither were shared outside the firm,” he said.

Deloitte said in a statement that it appeared Milo transferred the material shortly before he left the firm.

“We take this discovery extremely seriously as it represents a breach of our policies and Mr Milo’s obligations. We will conduct a thorough investigation and take action, including a demand of the return of all Deloitte information from Mr Milo,” the statement said.

“The materials featured in the … article were bound by client confidentiality, they were not classified, were outdated and held no commercial advantage.”

It said the systems it now had in place would detect a similar breach in real time.

The inquiry into consulting services was launched after the PwC tax scandal came to light. This week, senators questioned executives from EY, Deloitte and Accenture, and the committee is due to hand its final report to parliament at the end of November.

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