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Ukraine: top firms respond

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 08 Mar 2022

Large firms take action as the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues, cutting ties with their Russian arms and working to get their employees out of Ukraine.

Top 10 accountancy firms have taken major steps to distance themselves from Russia and provide Ukrainians with further aid. 

As of 7 March, the Big Four firms have removed their Russian firms from their networks. Grant Thornton also cut ties with its Russian firm the previous week. Others, such as BDO and Mazars, have focused their efforts on providing aid to employees in Ukraine. 

Here’s a summary of responses from firms so far:

KPMG

KPMG’s firms in Russia and Belarus – employing 4,500 people – will leave the KPMG network. “Ending our working relationship with them, many of whom have been a part of KPMG for many decades, is incredibly difficult,” said its Global Chair Bill Thomas. “This decision is not about them – it is a consequence of the actions of the Russian government. We are a purpose-led and values-driven organisation that believes in doing the right thing.” 

In a statement on LinkedIn, UK Chief Executive Jon Holt spoke about the dismay that the firm’s people had felt in response to the invasion of Ukraine. “Many of our people in the UK have been keen to help people affected by the events unfolding in Ukraine and the wider region. As a global firm we have committed more than US$1.1m towards supporting charitable efforts in the region through the UNICEF Ukraine appeal,” said Holt. 

EY

EY is providing financial support, relocation, transportation and immigration services for its 700 employees in Ukraine. Individuals at the firm are offering refugee support, such as logistical assistance, volunteer work and financial donations.

EY global will no longer serve Russian government clients, state-owned enterprises or sanctioned entities and individuals anywhere in the world, announcing the restructuring of its Russian member firm to separate it from the global network.

“This is heartbreaking as we have more than 4,700 colleagues in Russia, who have been a part of our global network for over 30 years and worked side by side with our global, Eastern European and Ukrainian colleagues,” an EY spokesperson said. “As we go through this change, we will work to support those colleagues, as well as our clients, in fulfilling our legal obligations and commitments.”

PwC

Kevin Ellis, Chairman and Senior Partner at PwC UK and Middle East Alliance, said: “PwC globally has decided, under the circumstances, that PwC should not have a member firm in Russia and it should leave the network. This has been an incredibly difficult decision to take and I pay tribute to the partners and staff of the Russian firm who have been our colleagues for the past 30 years. We will work to ensure an orderly transition. I sincerely hope this terrible war ends immediately.”

The firm is providing support for humanitarian efforts for the people of Ukraine, and is working to smooth the transition to ensure the well-being of its 3,700 staff at PwC Russia. The PwC Foundation has set up and donated to a fundraising appeal to support British Red Cross relief efforts in Ukraine.

Deloitte

Global CEO Punit Renjen made a statement on 7 March, following a previous announcement that the firm would be reviewing its business in Russia. Like the other firms, it made the decision to remove its practices in Russia and Belarus from its global network. 

The firm has around 3,000 employees in its Russia and Belarus offices, and has again offered support with the transition out of the network. 

“We will continue to prioritise the needs of our people and clients while we bring the full strength of Deloitte’s global resources to bear in addressing the mounting humanitarian needs in Ukraine and across Europe, he said. “We will honour our commitments and obligations to global financial markets and multiple regulatory bodies.”

He also said that the firm was taking “every possible action” to ensure the safety of its people in Ukraine. “For the time being, Deloitte has suspended business operations and client service in Ukraine as we focus on taking care of our people and their loved ones.”

Grant Thornton

The Global Leadership Team at Grant Thornton International agreed to the resignation of its Russian member firm, FBK, from its network with immediate effect.

“We are actively monitoring and reviewing our client engagements to ensure compliance with sanctions and taking the appropriate action, including declining new relationships or ceasing existing relationships,” a Grant Thornton spokesperson said. 

All prospective new clients with any connection to Russia or Belarus are being carefully considered, the spokesperson said. “Existing clients with Russian or Belarusian connections have also been reassessed and will continue to be monitored, and appropriate action taken to ensure we continue only to provide services to clients who are aligned with our values.”

BDO Global

“BDO’s leadership teams at global and at firm level have been working around the clock to provide support to our BDO people and to the relief effort overall,” the firm said in a statement. “This includes assisting the evacuation process and ongoing practical requirements, such as transportation, relocation and accommodation, as well as providing immediate financial assistance.

“We are in awe of the bravery and resilience shown by our colleagues in the region and we are extremely grateful for the way BDO has come together globally to support them.”

Mazars

“We have watched our staff running from their bombarded office or homes to find a shelter; or escaping with their children and families to reach neighbouring countries where other Mazars colleagues offer hospitality,” Hervé Hélias, CEO, Mazars Group, said. “We are appalled by the humanitarian tragedy and the major threat this violation of international law poses to peace in Europe and beyond.”

The firm set up a permanent direct line of communication to its 120 local staff based in Ukraine. “We are also conscious of the concern and distress of our 500 staff in Russia, also victims. They face dreadful uncertainties, and we continue to support them.”

Mazars’ Payroll Outsourcing team in Ukraine organised to deliver pay to all of its clients’ staff, so that each and every individual has some resource for immediate needs. “They have been heroic, and we cannot express our admiration enough; we truly admire their courage and professionalism,” said Hélias.

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