Norway opens doors to US audit watchdog

US WATCHDOG the PCAOB is to conduct joint audit inspections in Norway, after the country’s Financial Supervisory Authority reached a cooperation agreement.

Joint inspections of US-listed firms and their auditors have been blocked in Norway since 2008. Recently, both Switzerland and the UK agreed to allow the US regulator in and chairman James R Doty (pictured) said this cooperation is particularly important “in these challenging economic times”.

The agreement also governs exchange of confidential data between the two regulators, a particularly knotty issue that has delayed joint inspections despite the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act permitting the PCAOB to share information with peers.

Before 2002, European regulators were reluctant to share sensitive data with a US counterpart that was unable to reciprocate. Since the so-called Sarbox ruling, countries have been deliberating on whether to permit the PCAOB access, and the jury is still out in key nations like China and Germany.

James Doty told Accountancy Age discussions in Europe are “progressing well” and the regulator is “close to access arrangements in other nations”.

He said issues like lack of resources and data protection laws can pose problems, but insisted: “we don’t see any recalcitrance among our fellow regulators”.

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