The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board today published a formal statement concerning the benefits that may be available to registered public accounting firms and individuals who provide extraordinary cooperation in PCAOB investigations.
The policy statement describes what the PCAOB may consider to be extraordinary cooperation and how credit might be reflected for such cooperation. The policy is generally consistent with the Board's existing practices.
"This policy provides benefits to investors and real, tangible incentives to cooperate to firms and persons associated with firms," said James R. Doty, PCAOB Chairman. "Extraordinary cooperation permits the Board to more quickly and efficiently address wrongdoing for the protection of investors, and may earn parties credit in connection with the Board's disciplinary processes."
According to the policy statement, extraordinary cooperation is voluntary and timely action beyond compliance with legal or regulatory obligations. Cooperation that could result in credit includes self-reporting violations before the conduct comes to the attention of the Board or another regulator. Self-reporting is more valuable the earlier it is provided.
The other types of extraordinary cooperation that could result in credit are taking remedial or corrective action to reduce the risk of similar violations recurring, and providing substantial assistance in the PCAOB's investigative processes.
Credit for cooperation may result in reduced charges or sanctions in a disciplinary proceeding. In some cases, extraordinary cooperation may lead to language in settlement documents noting the cooperation and its effect. In exceptional cases, extraordinary cooperation could lead to no disciplinary action at all.
"Extraordinary cooperation can help streamline and expedite PCAOB investigations, which allows the Board to turn its attention and resources to other potential auditor misconduct," said Claudius B. Modesti, Director of the PCAOB Division of Enforcement and Investigations.
"This policy statement is an important step in encouraging auditors to go above and beyond what is required by law," he said.
Members of the public who wish to report potential violations of law or PCAOB rules may contact the Board through the Tip and Referral Center on the PCAOB website.