An anonymous letter written by a civil servant, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has levelled serious allegations against the multinational consulting firm KPMG’s India operations. In the letter, which is dated 5 December, a senior bureaucrat—who claims to be a member of the elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and holds the post of a director in the union government—accuses the group of exercising influence over key government officials by, among other means, recruiting their children and relatives. It alleges that there is a pattern of influence among senior officers in the central and state governments and top executives in KPMG India. Other allegations stated in the letter include the purported offer of a bribe to a bureaucrat, and the awarding of crucial government contracts to international firms, to the detriment of domestic industry.
A KPMG spokesperson strongly denied the imputations of impropriety but did not refute particular claims made in the letter.
The unnamed director writes that the letter was intended to bring to the prime minister’s notice “rampant corruption ... in collusion with private sector MNC consultants.” The author states that they have withheld their identity “on fear of persecution by fellow bureaucrats.” Reliable sources have confirmed to these reporters the authenticity of the letter, which has been doing the rounds in government circles in recent weeks.
Headquartered in the Netherlands, KPMG is one of the “big four” accounting and financial consultancy networks across the world, along with Ernst & Young, PwC (earlier PricewaterhouseCoopers) and Deloitte, all of which have significant operations in India.
The allegations described in the letter are serious. The director alleges that a senior executive in KPMG India’s government advisory services offered a joint secretary posted in their department a “substantial bribe” in exchange for the award of a large consulting project. The director states that the joint secretary declined the bribe. However, the director adds, the joint secretary chose not to report the matter, allegedly in fear of KPMG’s clout among senior officers of the IAS and the Indian Police Service (IPS) in the central and state governments.