A deal between the European Commission and the US Securities and Exchange Commission to reduce the administrative burden on European companies listed in the US could be struck this autumn, according to former ICAEW president Peter Wyman.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers partner, who is still working with the government and Financial Reporting Council on post-Enron matters, hopes an agreement between the EC and SEC over compulsory registration can be reached before the end of the year.
Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act any accounting firm which audits acompany with a US listing must register with the Public Company Accountancy Oversight Board and adhere to its stringent requirements, sparking outrage within the EC. Wyman admitted his hopes of a system of ‘mutual recognition’, where the US would recognise the oversight practices of the UK and other EU states as sufficiently robust to cover the requirements of the act, were unlikely to be realised.
Wyman added that, with the current April deadline to register with the PCAOB, ‘any deal should be done by the end of the year’, but if an EC deal failed, the UK was still prepared to go it alone ‘as a last resort’.