Pitt: UK Sarbanes-Oxley concessions in doubt

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and SEC chief Harvey Pitt resigns.

The Department of Trade and Industry secretary Patricia Hewitt had been lobbying for an exemption for UK companies and may have found in Pitt a receptive negotiation partner.

Last month, at an ICEAW conference in Brussels, Pitt said he was seeking a compromise, provided the European Commission would not impose its own standards on US firms.

Now that Pitt has resigned, the compromise is up in the air. ‘We will have to wait and see,’ said a spokeswoman for the DTI. Pending the search for a replacement, Hewitt is likely to focus her lobby on US competition officials.

Section 106 of Sarbanes-Oxley compels foreign audit firms to give working papers to US authorities on demand, and makes them subject to US court rulings.

Three main issues of the Act are up for consideration: its structure and funding; whether it should focus on just auditors or the industry as a whole; and whether there should be stronger oversight or intervention.

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