Embattled KPMG executive caught up in sex scandal

08 April 2016 Consultancy.uk

Another scandal has rocked Netherlands-based KPMG’s Dutch sister firm KPMG Meijburg. According to a Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf, an executive of the firm’s was involved in a sex scandal during a ski trip with colleagues. The director has resigned.

According to De Telegraaf, sourced from a leak within the company, the scandal centres around Wiebe Cnossen (50), who until recently was CFO of KPMG Meijburg (a sister company of KPMG). Two colleagues were said to have been molested by Cnossen in recent months, after which an internal complaint procedure was begun against him.

The incident allegedly took place during a ski weekend in Austria. During a night out a young tax adviser, who had been at the firm for three years, suddenly become unwell. "The next day she woke up in a bedroom with Wiebe Cnossen, and no longer had her bra on", someone close to the incident told the newspaper. Some insiders close to the matter suggest that her drink may have been spiked. During the same ski trip, Cnossen is also said to have sexually intimidated a secretary who works at Meijburg’s Rotterdam office, by among others sending her an SMS with an indecent proposal.

A spokesman for the professional services firm said that, in relation to privacy, the identity of those involved in the incident will not be disclosed. The executive who was allegedly involved has, according to the spokesperson, "behaved towards his female colleagues in a way that is contrary to the example that ought to be upheld by partners." KPMG Meijburg has hired an external party to scrutinise the situation further.

In February this year Cnossen stepped down from his role of Chief Financial Officer of KPMG Meijburg*. The firm at the time did not disclose the reason for Cnossen’s resignation; the spokesperson, following the latest recent leak, continues to provide no comment – whether there is a link between his resignation and the sex scandal is neither confirmed nor denied.

Cnossen was already in hot water at KPMG Meijburg, because a consultant at the firm, of Moroccan origin, accused the CFO of aggression and discrimination in the workplace.

The consultancy says: "The board of KPMG Meijburg sincerely regrets that the events, in so far as they have been established, have taken place, as well as the unsettling consequences for the colleagues involved.”

* The administration of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce show that Cnossen has resigned at Meijburg per 1 February 2016.


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UK financial conduct watchdog stung by bullying allegations

07 March 2019 Consultancy.uk

A freedom of information request has uncovered a drastic rise in the number of bullying allegations being reported by staff in one of the UK’s leading regulatory bodies. The Financial Conduct Authority has seen the number of bullying and harassment complaints lodged balloon from only two between 2009 and 2012 to 30 in the last three years.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is Britain’s non-bank financial markets regulatory authority which oversees the commercial ethics of some of the largest electronic trading firms in the world. The entity has been facing rising criticism in the last two years, having been pilloried by the leading members of the investment consulting market for its “inappropriate” recommendations for the future of the industry, which sources in the consulting world suggested were “based on misconceptions.”

However, it is not the FCA’s official activities which have become a cause for concern in 2019. Rather, it is its internal culture, with the watchdog having been rocked by a sharp rise in the number staff making accusations of bullying and harassment, which have prompted wider questions over the entity’s ability to stamp out misconduct in the City of London. Figures first reported by industry journal the Financial News revealed that FCA employees brought some 14 cases of bullying and harassment against the FCA last year.

UK financial conduct watchdog stung by bullying allegations

According to the report, all the incidents were investigated by the regulator, but only two people were fired and three were subject to disciplinary proceedings. The number of complaints was uncovered by a freedom of information request by Financial News, and represents a huge rise from the four reported incidences seen at the FCA in 2017. Since 2016, the figures showed that there had been a total of 30 such allegations lodged, meaning almost half came in 2018.

In the three years prior to this, meanwhile, just seven incidents were investigated, and beyond that a mere two cases of bullying and harassment were probed between 2009 and 2012. While the story could be a sign of “improved internal reporting”, as suggested by Maria Miller MP, the Chair of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee, she has now called on the Treasury Select Committee to look into misconduct at the financial regulator.

As the phenomenon of the #MeToo movement has swept the globe, unveiling long backlogs of systemic abuse of employees in many industries, the financial and professional services sectors have been no exception. Late in 2018, it was revealed that the Big Four had been forced to fire a number of Partners in their UK wings related to inappropriate behaviour, while IT professional services firm Web Applications UK was condemned by social commentators and the press for alleged bullying in its recruitment process.