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Russia extends PwC license for 5 years

Russian authorities have allowed auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers to operate in the country for another five years, Russia’s Finance Ministry said on Thursday, April 19.

Market players speculated Moscow might have decided against the extension after the auditor ran into trouble for working for the now-bankrupt oil firm Yukos. As MosNews reported, Russian court fined PricewaterhouseCoopers about $500,000 for producing false audits for Yukos and helping it evade taxes. PwC has been presented with a separate $11 million back-tax claim. PwC, which has Russia’s Central Bank, gas monopoly Gazprom and power major UES among its top clients, has said it acted strictly in line with business practices. It is widely believed that the Yukos case is politically charged. The firm’s shareholders say the Kremlin deliberately destroyed the company and pursued people and entities associated with it to punish its main owners for political ambitions.

Russian Interior Ministry officials also searched PwC’s offices, prompting the firm to object that the records that were removed went well beyond the scope of the tax claim. Over the past month, PwC has lost contracts with Russia’s largest carmaker, state-controlled AvtoVaz and part of its contract with the $21.4 billion Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, involving Gazprom and Royal Dutch/Shell. Gazprom has nevertheless retained PwC as its top auditor. On Thursday, the ministry said it had extended the license of the 'big four' auditor together with licenses of 70 other auditors working in Russia. PwC said it was pleased with the decision. “We will continue to provide the highest quality services to our clients, many of which are the largest and most successful companies in Russia,” the firm said in a statement that was quoted by Reuters. (