As KPMG was auditing JobsOhio’s books last fall, the global auditing and consulting firm also was seeking $1 million in taxpayer money from JobsOhio for an unnamed client.
JobsOhio, the state’s privatized development agency, says that the grant request was handled separately from and without the knowledge of the firm’s auditing division. But some say the timing raises ethical questions.
The situation also exposes weaknesses in the laws creating Gov. John Kasich’s JobsOhio, because recipients of state aid are kept secret until the project is approved.
While saying he didn’t have enough information to “make a determination” on the propriety of this situation, state Auditor Dave Yost called it “concerning.” Noting that auditors face strict ethical guidelines, the auditor said, “Any time you have questions of independence in our business, it’s concerning.”
Laura Jones, a spokeswoman for JobsOhio, said KPMG LLP’s Columbus office conducted the audit, but the grant was sought by an out-of-state office.
“The fact that KPMG serves JobsOhio and countless other businesses … from the same office here in Columbus is not a conflict in our minds,” she said, adding that the state also monitors and ultimately approves taxpayer-funded incentives to companies.
As the state’s lead economic-development agency, Jobs-Ohio is charged with recommending financial incentives for companies seeking to locate in the state.