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LONDON – Bill Michael, UK chairman of accounting giant KPMG, has resigned after telling staff to stop moaning about the coronavirus pandemic during a virtual meeting earlier this week.

KPMG confirmed on Friday that Michael, who has headed the UK firm since 2017, has resigned from his position.

Speaking in a virtual town hall on Monday, Michael told staff that after speaking with partners and employees at various levels of the company, he “almost feels like this is being done to them,” referring to their experience with the coronavirus Pandemic.

“Well, you can only play the role of victim when you are sick and I hope you are not sick, you are not sick, and when you are not sick you take control of your life,” he said. “Don’t sit down and moan about it, quite frankly,” said Michael.

Michael also described subconscious prejudice as “total crap”, adding that he believed there was “nothing like that”.

In a statement released on Friday about his departure, Michael said he was “really sorry that my words hurt my colleagues and that this week’s events had an impact on them.”

As a result of this incident, Michael said he found his position as chairman “untenable” and had decided to leave KPMG. He added that he was “very proud” of what KPMG employees had achieved, “especially in these very challenging times”.

Bina Mehta, a senior elected board member, has stepped up as acting chairman, while Mary O’Connor, director of customers and markets, has taken on Michael’s day-to-day leadership responsibility.

Michael’s biography on the KPMG website said he had “spearheaded KPMG’s work on the financial crisis and advocated the debate on banking culture and standards and the need for industry change.”