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HomeMiscellanyDead KPMG executive listed as $150K donor to BC Liberals

Dead KPMG executive listed as $150K donor to BC Liberals

Bob Mackin

The Vancouver office of KPMG is back in the news.

The recent CBC Fifth Estate documentary, “The Untouchables,” described KPMG’s 1999-hatched Isle of Man tax-avoidance scheme. 

Now KPMG comes under the microscope of theBreaker for large donations made to the BC Liberal Party. Specifically, the $150,203 listed in the Elections B.C. database from 2005 to 2010. 

The donations ranged from a single contribution of $65 on April 8, 2005 to four for $20,000 (Dec. 31, 2007; Oct. 29, 2008; Dec. 10, 2009; and Dec. 28, 2010). David McShane and Eric Watt were named as KPMG’s principal officers in the Elections B.C. political donations database. 

Who are they? 

Watt was Premier Christy Clark’s financial agent for her 2011 leadership campaign. He retired from the firm as a senior partner in 2012. In 2014, he was named to the Knowledge Network board via cabinet order.

McShane was the managing partner of the Vancouver office, but never was involved in making any of the 24 separate donations spanning five years. He died of cancer on July 17, 2004 at age 49. 

How did the name of a deceased accounting executive end up in the B.C. Liberal Party’s disclosures to Elections B.C. for so many years after his death? 

“This was an inadvertent administrative error,” KPMG national spokeswoman Tenille Kennedy told theBreaker. “We have been in touch with the Liberal Party, who administers the information, to have this corrected with Elections B.C. as quickly as possible.”

On March 10, Elections B.C. said it called in the RCMP after a Globe and Mail story about big donations to the BC Liberals by lobbyists. IntegrityBC said March 14 that it will send the RCMP a list of 727 suspicious donations by 118 BC Liberal donors totalling nearly $1.6 million.

Watt’s name, meanwhile, is attached to another $173,450 in donations to the Liberals through Jan. 1, 2016, mostly with CEO Elio Luongo. There were also three KPMG donations to the NDP for $8,700. Watt also donated $3,500 to the Liberals under his own name at the end of 2009.

KPMG is the official auditor retained by BC Hydro and B.C. Lottery Corporation. The head of KPMG’s global infrastructure practice is Gary Webster, who has been contracted to review aspects of the $3 billion-plus Port Mann toll bridge and the nearly $9 billion Site C dam.

For the year ended March 31, 2016, the central government’s Public Accounts show that KPMG billed taxpayers $2,581,843, plus another $109,346 through April 2016.