April 28, 2005
More on the Ethics of Hypocrisy
Posted by Christine Hurt

The WSJ reports today that KPMG fired the head of its tax-services division and two partner/board members.  KPMG is under investigation by the DOJ for tax products that its sold that the IRS later declared illegal.  I have written before about the ethics of firing employees as knee-jerk reactions.  The KPMG firings were less knee-jerk firings to appear ethical and more considered actions to appear "cooperative" to the DOJ.  John Steele at Legal Ethics Forum has also blogged on DOJ tactics to separate the corporate entity from directors/officers.

I continue to be stunned by the hypocrisy of the new ethical climate in which businesses "do the right thing" by being disloyal to employees that had institutional support behind the endeavors in question.  KPMG was more than happy to receive revenue from aggressive tax products, but now tries to appear above it all by firing the very people it praised right before the DOJ called.

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