Northern California Record

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Whistleblower claims PriceWaterhouseCooper overlooked accounting deficiencies; sacked, blacklisted him

By John Breslin | May 14, 2018


SAN FRANCISCO – A former employee with PriceWaterhouseCooper is claiming the firm failed to properly audit companies, and then retaliated by sacking and blacklisting him when he began asking questions.

Mauro Botta, an SEC whistleblower who went to the Security and Exchange Commission with his concerns, filed suit in federal court against the company and seven named employees.

In his complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Botta described work linked to three companies that are not named in court papers, but are identified by other sources as technology firms based in Silicon Valley.

Essentially, the plaintiff claims there were deficiencies in the accounting by, and of, the three companies and that the named defendants failed to flag them up and Botta became an SEC whistleblower.

"In or around November of 2016, plaintiff filed a formal TCR (tip, complaint, or referral) with the Securities Exchange Commission outlining fraudulent activity, professional ineptitude, and deceptive practices, among other things," the complaint states.

In or around June of 2017, three months after the SEC opened its investigation into defendants’ improprieties, Botta, who worked in the San Francisco office, was told he had to “find a new job due to a restructuring that the firm was doing.”

Further, the plaintiff claims that in early 2018, after he managed to secure another job, PWC "reached out to plaintiff’s new employer and advised that plaintiff was 'incompetent.'"

Earlier, the defendants were asked to evaluate Botta's work. He was described as "an emotional Italian guy,” that he "throws partners under the bus,” and advised plaintiff that “what [the defendants] deal with is not perfect, you just have to suck it up.” Botta was born in Italy.

Botta complained of the alleged violations of  state and federal laws and regulations. He claims he was ignored, mistreated, and retaliated against by his direct supervisors, treated with hostility, and then was abruptly terminated, according to the court papers.

Price Waterhouse Cooper spokeswoman Sarah Tropiano told the Program on Government Oversight (POGO): “The claims presented in the lawsuit are false. PwC maintains the highest ethical standards around our business and a robust code of conduct that protects whistleblowers. Mr. Botta’s employment was terminated for legitimate business reasons, and we will demonstrate that in court.”

POGO, which was in touch with Botta, reported that the three companies are technology firms based in Silicon Valley.

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U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California