PwC on the defensive in Russia

PricewaterhouseCoopers has fought to defend its ailing reputation in Russia with full-page advertisements in several Russian newspapers.

The move was made in response to negative commentary in the media, and attacks from minority shareholders of Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, who have called for PwC to be removed as its auditor.

PwC has been accused of approving dubious deals that have resulted in asset losses of up to $13 billion for Gazprom. The firm's position has been further threatened by the gas group's decision to put its audit out to tender. More than 20 audit companies, including the other 'Big Five' firms, have made bids.

The adverts said that recent media coverage demonstrated 'a lack of understanding of the role of independent auditors' and that uninformed and ill-founded commentary was unnecessarily harmful to the reputation of Russian companies, as well as damaging to the country's investment climate.

The adverts also dismissed any parallels with Andersen and Enron in the US, pointing to the differences between the US and Russian markets and the fact that PwC had long since decided to sell its management consulting practice.

The Russian regulatory body, the Audit Chamber, has since said it intends to investigate PwC's audit work for Gazprom.

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