One of KPMG’s most senior partners who was at the centre of a bullying dispute has left the firm eight months after widespread scrutiny of his conduct that led to a crackdown on behaviour at the Big Four firm.
Sanjay Thakkar, former head of deal advisory, departed KPMG by “mutual consent” this month after 28 years at the firm, according to a spokesperson.
The 51-year-old was accused of bullying last year in a high-profile row that resulted in two female partners resigning from the firm. Their departures followed a bruising period for KPMG, whose culture and values were criticised after a series of accounting controversies.
Mr Thakkar has launched a London-based advisory firm called Arkley Square Advisors, according to a filing on Companies House. He ran KPMG’s deals consulting unit, one of its most profitable divisions, until he took a leave of absence amid an investigation into complaints against him last summer. He did not respond to a request for comment.
KPMG hired Linklaters, a law firm, to investigate allegations of bullying by Mr Thakkar in June. It followed criticism that the firm’s management had not properly handled an earlier internal inquiry into his conduct.
KPMG declined to reveal the findings of the Linklaters review or to give any details on the terms of his departure. Two people with knowledge of the review’s outcome said the Linklaters report had in effect cleared Mr Thakkar of bullying. However, one former employee who said they had complained to KPMG’s management about Mr Thakkar said they had not been interviewed as part of the review.
Bill Michael, chairman of KPMG UK, sent a memo to KPMG’s 16,000 staff last year to warn that bad behaviour would not be tolerated. It resulted in a number of complaints about the conduct of some partners, who were then investigated by Mary O’Connor, chief risk officer.
The fallout led to an unprecedented focus on conduct and culture at KPMG. The firm conducted 99 investigations into complaints by whistleblowers about ethical and conduct violations in 2019, according to its latest transparency report to regulators. It made some of its 623 partners attend four workshops on “psychological safety” and introduced 113 “ethics champions” in its UK offices on the back of “safety and trust” sessions with almost 600 junior employees.
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