PricewaterhouseCoopers has agreed to pay $5 million to settle allegations by federal regulators that it broke rules meant to ensure that auditors remain independent from the companies whose books they oversee.
PricewaterhouseCoopers neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in the settlement that the Securities and Exchange Commission announced. The firm agreed to be censured for engaging in improper professional conduct and to make changes in how it operates, the agency said.
As a result of the independence rules violations, the SEC found that 16 clients of PricewaterhouseCoopers submitted financial statements from 1996 to 2001 that didn't comply with federal securities laws. Avon Products Inc., for one, agreed to restate 1999 and 2001 earnings as a result.