Washington (June 25, 2003) -- The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s plan to employ an aggressive, “emergency response” enforcement strategy to police accounting firms and corporations could undergo significant changes at a rule planning meeting tentatively scheduled for July.
Rather than rules, or even proposed rules, the PCAOB is describing the enforcement program outlined earlier this year as “a blueprint for the board’s staff” that will be “subject to refinement and change as the board gains additional experience.”
Under that previously announced strategy, the PCAOB intends to “immediately investigate the conduct of auditors whenever serious financial reporting failures come to its attention.”
To speed these investigations, the plan calls for the board to “rapidly dispatch ‘emergency response teams’” to determine whether the auditor involved in the matter engaged in improper conduct.
Audit firms and individual accountants charged with wrongdoing would face trial-like proceedings presided over by a PCAOB hearing officer who will serve as the judge.
PCAOB officials justified these fast-paced enforcement proceedings as “essential to restore public confidence in financial reporting.”
Although none of these enforcement strategies have yet been ruled out by the board, a PCAOB spokeswoman stressed that “nothing is locked into place” at this time.
-- Ken Rankin
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