The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has voted to delay inspections of foreign accounting firms for up to three years after hearing an outcry over the legality of the inspections from regulators and firms overseas.

The adopted amendment gives the board the ability to postpone the 2009 deadline for the first inspection of 49 non-U.S. firms in 24 jurisdictions in which the board has yet to conduct inspections.

Under the new rule, the PCAOB will conduct those inspections from 2009 to 2012, according to a schedule based on the market capitalization of the firms' clients.

The PCAOB encountered resistance to the inspections, including concerns over potential legal conflicts with local authorities. To date, it has conducted 140 inspections of non-U.S. firms in 26 jurisdictions.

The PCAOB will also post a list of registered firms that have not yet had their first PCAOB inspection, even though more than four years have passed since the end of the year in which they first issued an audit report while registered with the board. The list will be updated in January and July of each year.

The new rule will take effect once the SEC approves it.

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