SYDNEY: Australia's fourth largest pension fund suspended new work with PwC Australia on Tuesday, the latest in a string of funds to pause work with the accounting firm over a scandal which first surfaced in January over the misuse of government tax plans.

The decision by UniSuper, which manages A$115 billion ($77 billion), means five of Australia's largest pension funds, managing a total of some A$865 billion, have paused work with PwC, which says it is a "leading adviser" to the sector.

UniSuper said it was concerned by recent events at PwC and the fund had suspended new contracts for the "immediate future".

The move comes a day after the "big four" accounting firm sacked eight partners, including its former chief executive, who had yet to leave the firm, in a bid to "re-earn trust".

PwC, which was UniSuper's internal auditor according to the fund's 2022 annual report, declined to comment.

"While PwC has provided the Fund with an assessment that the relationship we have built over years has not been affected by this situation, we have sought further assurances on this matter," a UniSuper spokesperson said.

Tax authorities revealed in January a former PwC partner who advised the Australian government on anti-tax avoidance laws had shared confidential drafts about the government's plans with colleagues then used this to drum up business with companies.

The scandal has already cost PwC a string of high profile clients, including the Reserve Bank of Australia, and forced the sale of its lucrative government consulting business for A$1. ($1 = 1.4972 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Alexander Smith)