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 Legislative Proposal on Public Enforcement Proceedings

DATE Aug. 5, 2010
SPEAKER(S): Steven B. Harris, Board Member
EVENT: PCAOB Open Board Meeting
LOCATION: Washington, DC

Mr. Chairman, I agree with you, Bill Gradison and Charley Niemeier  and believe that our disciplinary proceedings should be brought into line with those of other agencies such as the SEC, CFTC, Department of Labor and FDIC.

As you mentioned, SEC disciplinary hearings involving professionals were private until 1988 when the Commission amended its rules to make the hearings presumptively public. It is my understanding, that the reasons cited by the Commission for the change included:

  • Public proceedings are more favored in the law than closed-door proceedings.
  • The public and other auditors have a legitimate interest in learning, on a timely basis, the facts and circumstances that have led to the institution of proceedings.
  • The public and audit professionals are interested in timely disclosure of the standards used to commence disciplinary proceedings.
  • Private proceedings create incentives for delays. And,
  • At the SEC, virtually all other administrative proceedings brought by the SEC (including those against brokers, dealers, investment advisers, and public companies) and all SEC injunctive actions are public.

I believe that a number of the reasons cited by the Commission for their change in 1988 are equally applicable today to the PCAOB and, as I said at the outset, I believe our disciplinary proceedings should be brought into line with standard practice at other regulatory bodies.


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