Washington (Oct. 8, 2003) -- The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board approved new rules Tuesday, requiring routine annual inspections of all major accounting firms with 100 or more audit clients. The rules, which now must be approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, subject smaller firms with fewer than 100 audit clients to regular inspections once every three years.

Additionally, PCAOB will be empowered by the new rules to undertake separate “special investigations” of firms at any time to “assess the degree of compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.” In explaining those provisions to Board members during a October 7 meeting in Washington, PCAOB staff enforcement officials stressed that while these special inspections may have a “more narrow focus” than the routine scheduled inspections, these proceedings will not be “tantamount to an investigation” of the accounting firm.

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