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June 16, 2014

Big Four Audit Firms in China in Settlement Talks With SEC Enforcers

“U.S. securities regulators and the Chinese affiliates of the Big Four accounting firms have been discussing a potential settlement of their dispute over access to the firms’ audit documents about their Chinese clients, according to a filing late Monday.

“The firms—the Chinese arms of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young and KPMG—have been in “continued settlement efforts” with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division, according to the filing, issued by the five-member SEC.

“‘We’ve definitely been trying’ to reach a settlement, said Amy Call Well, an Ernst & Young spokeswoman. A PwC spokeswoman confirmed the information in the filing but said she couldn’t comment further. The other two firms couldn’t be reached for comment. An SEC spokesman declined to comment.

“The settlement talks, which haven’t been previously reported, come as the firms’ Chinese affiliates appeal a judge’s ruling that ordered them suspended from auditing U.S.-traded companies for six months. An SEC administrative law judge issued the suspension in January after the firms refused to give the SEC some documents it had sought from them about Chinese audit clients who are under SEC investigation.”

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Read full Wall Street Journal article here

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