The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has censured PKF Hong Kong and revoked its registration, banning it from auditing US firms, writes accounting professor Paul Gillis on his website. This is a next step in efforts to get Chinese accounting firms into line with US regulations, and forcing to give insight in the books of US-listed Chinese firms.
On January 9, 2014 the PCAOB issued an order of formal investigation of PKF’s audits of an unnamed client (PKF had resigned that account a year earlier). In early April 2015 the PCAOB, pursuant to an Accounting Board Demand, insisted that PKF make available people to testify about the audits. PKF refused, saying Chinese law forbid them from doing so, and insisted that the PCAOB go through the enforcement cooperation MOU with the CSRC. The PCAOB argued that it is not bound to go through the MOU but must follow US law.
I believe this action sends a strong signal to Chinese authorities that the PCAOB is willing to deregister accounting firms that do not cooperate with it. I have heard that the PCAOB has issued an Accounting Board Demand, or something similar to it, to the China Big Four firms in December. I do not expect the firms will comply with the demand, setting up a scenario similar to PKF. If the PCAOB follows a timetable similar to the PKF case, it suggests that a disciplinary action might take place this coming summer, assuming that the PCAOB and Chinese regulators are unable to reach an agreement on inspections.
Sarbanes Oxley legislation precludes the PCAOB from disclosing pending disciplinary actions until they are final, and likely Big Four appeals of any PCAOB action may delay this information from becoming public for some time.
Are you looking for more stories by Paul Gillis? Do check out this list.