(Bloomberg) Chinese affiliates of the four largest accounting firms have filed an appeal with U.S. regulators to reverse an administrative judge’s decision to bar them for six months after they stymied investigations of possible accounting fraud.

The Securities and Exchange Commission will have to weigh the punishment just as U.S. and Chinese regulators make strides in overcoming some of the legal conflicts that the auditors say prevented them from cooperating with probes of China-based companies listed on U.S. exchanges. China has signaled that the diplomatic progress could be derailed if the SEC upholds the judge’s Jan. 22 decision. The firms said that day they would submit an appeal, which was filed Feb. 12.

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