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Auditors for Foreign Firms Must Register

April 24, 2003|From Bloomberg News

The new U.S. accounting oversight board voted Wednesday to require auditors for foreign companies selling stock in U.S. markets to accept the board's authority, rebuffing European and Asian requests for exemptions.

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board voted unanimously to order these non-U.S. accounting firms to register under the system created by Congress last year.

As a concession, the board gave the foreign firms 180 additional days to register, beyond an October deadline for U.S. firms to sign up. Regulators from the European Union, Japan and Canada -- who said U.S. accounting rules sometimes conflict with requirements of home-country laws -- had asked the board for a one-year moratorium to permit more study.

The registration rules "are the cornerstone of the financial and auditing reforms" contained in the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate governance law, said Charles Niemeier, acting board chairman. "We are rebuilding trust in the accounting profession."

Board member Daniel Goelzer said the board must be "flexible" in continuing discussions with foreign regulators about coordination of audit rules.

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