Chair Williams Press Conference Remarks: The PCAOB Will Not Tolerate Cheating

Chair remarks at virtual press conference announcing record $25 million fine on KPMG Netherlands after exam cheating, misinforming investigators

Washington, DC, Apr. 10, 2024

Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) Chair Erica Y. Williams made the following statement today at a virtual press conference announcing the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) today imposed a record $25 million fine sanctioning KPMG Accountants N.V. (“KPMG Netherlands”) after the PCAOB found that widespread improper answer sharing occurred at the firm over a five-year period and that the firm made multiple misrepresentations to the PCAOB about its knowledge of the misconduct.

Also today, the PCAOB announced $2 million in fines against Deloitte Indonesia and Deloitte Philippines for violations of PCAOB rules and quality control deficiencies that resulted in widespread answer sharing on internal training tests. 

From Chair Williams: 

Good morning. Thank you for joining us.

Today we are announcing the largest civil money penalty in the history of the PCAOB – a $25 million fine against KPMG Netherlands for violations of PCAOB rules and quality control standards relating to exam cheating and misinforming investigators.

The widespread exam cheating went on for a period of five years, from 2017 to 2022, and involved hundreds of professionals, reaching as far as partners and senior firm leaders – including the firm’s former Head of Assurance, who is also facing a $150,000 penalty and permanent bar under today’s orders.

The growth and breadth of exam cheating in this case was enabled by the firm’s failure to take appropriate steps to monitor, investigate, and identify the potential misconduct.

Furthermore, during the course of our investigation, the firm submitted – and failed to correct – multiple inaccurate representations to the PCAOB.

For example, the firm claimed to have no knowledge of answer sharing prior to a 2022 whistleblower report. Yet, this could not have been true because members of the firm’s Management Board and Supervisory Board who signed off on that submission to the PCAOB had, in fact, cheated themselves.

But it doesn’t end there. KPMG Netherlands’ CEO learned the submissions were inaccurate and failed to inform anyone until months later, when a second whistleblower came forward. Only then did the firm correct the inaccurate representations to investigators.

This misconduct reveals an inappropriate tone at the top and a complete failure by firm leadership to promote an ethical culture worthy of investors’ trust.

I want to thank our Dutch counterparts, who conducted a parallel investigation alongside the PCAOB, for their cooperation.

The Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets has separately imposed enhanced supervision measures under Dutch law aimed at preventing recurrences.

In a global economy, the work of protecting investors does not stop at our borders. Our parallel investigations and complementary actions offer an important model for how regulators working together can strengthen accountability and ensure investors are best protected.

This case did not take place in a vacuum.

Also today, the PCAOB announced separate $1 million fines against both Deloitte Indonesia and Deloitte Philippines in their own exam cheating cases.

Since 2021, the PCAOB has sanctioned nine registered firms for exam cheating.

I want to be very clear: The PCAOB will not tolerate exam cheating nor any other unethical behavior, period.

Impaired ethics erode trust and threaten the investor confidence our system relies on. The PCAOB will take action to hold firms accountable when they fail to enforce a culture of honesty and integrity.

This Board set a goal to strengthen PCAOB enforcement, and we are doing just that. As of today, the PCAOB has imposed $34 million in penalties this year alone, and it’s only April.

We set a record in 2022. We broke that record in 2023. And we are breaking it again today.

Let today’s news be a clear warning to those who break the rules – if you put investors at risk, there will be consequences.

I want to thank our enforcement team for their continued efforts to hold firms accountable on behalf of investors.

Now I’ll be happy to take some of your questions.


About the PCAOB 

The PCAOB is a nonprofit corporation established by Congress to oversee the audits of public companies in order to protect investors and further the public interest in the preparation of informative, accurate, and independent audit reports. The PCAOB also oversees the audits of brokers and dealers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including compliance reports filed pursuant to federal securities laws. 


PCAOB Office of Communications and Engagement 
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