PCAOB Sanctions Friedman LLP for Improper Use of Unregistered Chinese Firms
PCAOB imposes censure and $100,000 fine
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) today announced a settled disciplinary order sanctioning New York-based Friedman LLP (“Friedman”) for failing to reasonably supervise unregistered Chinese firms in audits of 12 different public companies with operations in China.
The PCAOB found that Friedman allowed two unregistered accounting firms based in the People’s Republic of China – Peking Certified Public Accountants and Beijing Baijielai Financial Consulting Co., Limited – to play a substantial role in 12 Friedman audits. In the audits, the unregistered firms either performed more than 20% of total audit hours or incurred more than 20% of total audit fees – the threshold for substantial role participation requiring Board registration – or both. In many instances, participation by the unregistered firm far exceeded 20%.
“PCAOB rules are crystal clear – firms playing a substantial role in the audits of public companies must register with the PCAOB. Those who break the rules and put investors at risk will be held accountable,” said PCAOB Chair Erica Y. Williams.
Additionally, Friedman was found to have violated, in connection with the audits, PCAOB standards relating to due professional care, audit planning, and quality control.
Without admitting or denying the findings, Friedman consented to the PCAOB’s order and the disciplinary action. The PCAOB imposed a $100,000 civil money penalty and censured the firm.
PCAOB enforcement staff members Noah Berlin, Lindsay Kelemen, and Nick Gradone conducted the investigation, supervised by Kyra Armstrong and John Abell.
The PCAOB oversees auditors’ compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, provisions of the securities laws relating to auditing, professional standards, and PCAOB and SEC rules. Strengthening enforcement is one of the PCAOB’s most important strategic goals.
Further information about the PCAOB Division of Enforcement and Investigations is available on the PCAOB website. Firms or individuals wishing to report suspected misconduct by auditors, or to self-report possible misconduct, may visit the PCAOB Tips and Referrals page.
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, including compliance reports filed pursuant to federal securities laws.
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