Washington (Sept. 17, 2004) -- Although foreign accounting firms bristled at Sarbanes-Oxley Act provisions requiring them to seek approval from regulators in Washington in order to audit the financial statements of U.S. companies, they are now flocking by the hundreds to register with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

Of the 1,319 registrations processed by the board through mid-September, more than one-third are from non-U.S. firms, PCAOB registration and inspections director Patricia Thompson said. More foreign firms are expected to register, even though the official deadline for doing so passed on July 19, she said in a report to the PCAOB’s public meeting on Wednesday.

The 465 foreign accounting firms that have registered with PCAOB so far are based in 76 countries around the world, but the heaviest flow of applications has come from firms in English-speaking nations. A total of 47 Canadian accounting firms have registered with the board, along with 29 from the United Kingdom and 24 from Australia, Thompson said. Other countries with high numbers of registrants include Hong Kong (20), France (19), India (19), Germany (16), and China (10). Another 60 registration applications are still pending before Thompson’s office, and approximately half of them are from non-U.S. firms, she told the board.

In a separate report at the same meeting, PCAOB chief administrative officer Paul Schneider told board members that the organization’s staff recruiting efforts are proceeding on schedule. Full-time staffing levels at the 21-month-old board are now up to 228 employees, and the PCAOB is on track to meet its goal of 284 employees by the end of 2004, he said.

-- Ken Rankin

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