KPMG staff member suspected of spiking drinks in New Zealand

06 September 2023 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read
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A serial drink-spiker is suspected to be an employee of KPMG’s New Zealand branch, with the professional services firm reporting two incidents to police and launching an internal investigation.

The New Zealand partnership of professional services firm KPMG is confronting a possible predator within its ranks after two separate drink-spiking incidents are alleged to have occurred at recent staff gatherings.

As reported by local media outlet Stuff.co.nz, which claimed to be privy to a leaked internal email on the matter, the hunt is now on for the perpetrator, described by KPMG New Zealand chair Matt Pritchard as a “grubby little coward”.

KPMG staff member suspected of spiking drinks in New Zealand

“This email is not something I never expected to have to write,” begins Pritchard’s staff-wide missive. “Distressingly, last Friday at our monthly Auckland Partners’ shout, one of our people was a victim of drink-spiking. While the location of the incident was not certain, it was likely to have also been at our premises. It is shocking to us a member of the KPMG family would do something so despicable and cowardly to another member of our family.”

The urgency of the situation is compounded by suspicions of a repeat offender, with the firm having already put in place extra security and other measures for its most recent event after reports of a similar incident “of serious concern” having occurred just weeks earlier. It appears there are no doubts as to the veracity of the claims, with Pritchard noting that the most recent victim had been driven home by one of the firm’s partners and the police alerted.

“We expected these measures, combined with the policies we have in place to ensure we’re responsible hosts, including one drink per person per bar visit, with no drink stacking, would be effective,” Pritchard states in the email. “Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough, and we are reviewing our approach to these events. While we are currently focused on our affected team members, we want to minimise the risk of this ever happening again.”

The authenticity of the email has since been confirmed, with Pritchard telling the NZ Herald that while more than 300 people attended the last event, including contractors coming in and out of what was described as a reasonably open space, the firm was working under the assumption that the perpetrator was one of its own. In addition to the police report, KPMG has also launched an internal investigation, with requests from staff for any event footage.

KPMG’s NZ branch has in excess of 100 partners and around 1,600 employees, and is awaiting Jason Doherty to succeed company veteran Godfrey Boyce as CEO in December. Pritchard meanwhile has only served as executive chair since 2020, and may come under fire for being out of touch with the country’s chronic drink-spiking issues. A father of five young children, Pritchard stated that he didn’t grow up with drink-spiking being a “thing”.

“I recognise that many of the young people that work for us deal with it as a possibility in public places where they go out,” Prichard told the media of the drink-spiking epidemic, which is a jailable offence. “But neither them nor us, myself as the leader, thought this would be something that could happen in a workplace. We have a big family in this place. It’s not a way that you behave to anybody, but it’s especially not a way that you behave to your family.”