New York (June 30, 2003) -- New registration requirements of the accounting oversight board are prompting U.S. accounting firms to ask all their auditors to disclose any convictions for petty crimes over the past five years, including shoplifting, trespassing and drunk driving, it was reported Friday.

Bloomberg News quoted Grant Thornton chief executive Edward Nusbaum as questioning whether such information is relevant to the quality of audits and also if it infringes on the employees’ privacy.

``We all make mistakes in life, and not to forgive somebody for a mistake five years ago, and then make it a public record, is a little scary,'' Nusbaum told the wire service.

The Securities and Exchange Commission must still give final approval of all the board’s rules, and is seeking public comment on the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s registration requirements until July 2. U.S. accounting firms that audit public companies are required to register by October.

The PCAOB approved the disclosure rule in April and hasn't decided whether criminal records of accountants will be released to the public, members told reporters.

-- WebCPA staff

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