The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board today announced that it has entered into a cooperative arrangement with the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (HAASOB) relating to the oversight of audit firms subject to the regulatory jurisdictions of both regulators. The agreement takes effect immediately.
"This agreement with the Greek audit regulator reflects our shared commitment to improve audit quality and protect investors through cross-border cooperation," said PCAOB Chairman James R. Doty.
"The PCAOB continues to work towards reaching cooperative arrangements with its counterparts in the remaining jurisdictions in the European Union where the Board has not been able to conduct inspections," he added.
The PCAOB has reached similar agreements in the European Union with Denmark, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, the PCAOB has agreements with Switzerland and Norway, and with several regulators in North America, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.
The agreement with the HAASOB provides a framework for joint inspections and allows for the exchange of confidential information in accordance with the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.
Those provisions amended the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to permit the PCAOB to share confidential information with its non-U.S. counterparts under certain circumstances. An agreement on data protection is also part of this cooperative arrangement.
"This agreement is a reflection of our ongoing efforts to reach cooperative agreements with the remaining European Union member state regulators where PCAOB-registered firms are located," said Bruce Wilson, PCAOB Director of International Affairs. "We are pleased that we have found a way to move forward at this time with our Greek counterparts."
Since the inception of its non-U.S. inspection program in 2004, the PCAOB has conducted inspections in 45 non-U.S. jurisdictions. Where possible, the Board seeks to coordinate its inspections with the local authorities to enhance cooperation and the sharing of information.
Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the PCAOB oversees and inspects all accounting firms that regularly audit public companies whose securities trade in U.S. markets. The Act requires the Board to conduct inspections annually for firms that regularly provide audit reports for more than 100 issuers, and at least triennially for firms that regularly provide audit reports for 100 or fewer issuers.
More than 900 of the approximately 2,300 audit firms currently registered with the PCAOB are located outside of the United States, including six registered firms in Greece.