LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce intends to ask the SEC to relax a rule governing the retention of audit firms that the agency has implemented under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The Chamber of Commerce wants the SEC to allow accounting firms to perform to perform audits for any company within one year of having provided consulting or other servicers for that company. Currently, the SEC’s rules do not permit such engagements.
Rather, under the current rule, a company cannot hire as its auditor any accounting firm that has performed other services for it within five years. The Chamber will formally make its request in a policy paper it intends to release today to the public. Those opposed to this rule change contend that any period shorter than the five year waiting period now applicable could create unacceptable conflicts of interest.
The Chamber of Commerce’s policy paper also requests Congress to set clear guidelines on when the Justice Department can bring criminal charges against companies. The Chamber contends that unclear guidance on when the Justice Department can seek indictments has had a negative impact on auditing firms by increasing the cost of the firm’s liability insurance coverage. This, in turn, according to the Chamber, has acted as a big barrior to new firms entering the field.
Prepared by: Stuart Silverman, Chair of the Sarbanes-Oxley Task Force