SEC seeks access.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission said last week it would push for better access to the audit papers of non-US companies, and those affiliated with US companies.

According to Richard Walker, director of the division of enforcement at the SEC, if the commission is to effectively carry out its mission of investor protection ‘it is critical the commission staff have ready access to audit work papers regardless of where they are located’.

Despite the arguments of audit firms that foreign affiliates are separate legal bodies, Walker believes foreign companies issuing shares on US capital markets should be required to provide the same access to information as domestic issuers are required to provide.

Commenting on the success of the enforcement division, Walker said it had uncovered close to 100 financial reporting cases in the fiscal year ended 30 September, up 10% on last year. He added that the division’s top priority would continue to be combating financial problems and the SEC would continue its zero tolerance approach to securities law violations.

The division of enforcement is tasked with investigating possible violations of US federal securities laws, and prosecutes the SEC’s civil suits in the federal courts as well as its administrative proceedings.

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