KPMG partner takes leave of absence over bullying allegations

The partner at the centre of accusations of alleged bullying against team members at KPMG has stepped down as investigations continue at the Big Four firm

Sanjay Thakkar, a partner in the deal advisory group at KPMG, had worked at the firm for nearly 30 years. He has now taken a leave of absence following further accusations of bullying, which came to light last week after it was reported that two women partners, both part of the deal advisory team, Maggie Bereton, and Ina Kjaer, head of integration and separation, had resigned in February after they said KPMG failed to take adequate action to resolve the issue.

When the allegations of bullying were first raised and rejected by the firm, Thakkar went through a conduct investigation and was cleared of any wrongdoing after he took leadership coaching.

Now further allegations have come to light and Thakkar, who has been with KPMG since 1991, has now taken a leave of absence, pending the outcome of the investigation.

A KPMG spokesperson told Accountancy Daily: ‘We can confirm that KPMG has launched an investigation into new allegations made against Sanjay Thakkar, which were reported to the firm’s leadership last week. As this investigation is now live, it would not be appropriate for us to comment further.

‘Sanjay has stepped down from his role as head of deal advisory, with immediate effect. Melanie Richards, our deputy chair will assume the role of acting head of deal advisory, in addition to her existing role, pending the appointment of new leadership.’

Gender diversity

The gender split of partners at KPMG is the worst across the Big Four firms at 18.8%, split between 635 male partners and 120 female partners, according to the Accountancy Daily Top 75 Firms Survey 2019. The best performing Big Four firm in terms of partner gender diversity is Deloitte where 26% of partners are women. EY has a 20.5% split, while PwC has 19.3%.

The accounting profession generally has a poor reputation for promoting women to senior roles with the largest mid-tier firms Grant Thornton (16%) and BDO (15%) both having few women in top jobs with leadership teams dominated by men.

Report by Sara White

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