The PCAOB enforces the professional standards and other related laws and rules governing the audits of public companies and broker-dealers. PCAOB staff investigates potential violations by public accounting firms and individuals of these standards, laws, and rules.
To conduct investigations, PCAOB staff uses a wide variety of tools, including:
- Written requests and demands for documents and information;
- Sworn testimony of individuals and firm representatives; and
- Public filings, referrals, and whistleblower tips.
As stated in the PCAOB Strategic Plan, the Board prioritizes enforcement efforts that address those issues that pose the greatest risk to investors and are most likely to deter improper conduct. PCAOB staff focuses its work on significant audit violations, failures relating to auditor independence, and matters threatening the Board’s oversight integrity (e.g., noncooperation with PCAOB inspections and investigations). When violations are found, the PCAOB may impose sanctions, including censures, monetary penalties, and limitations on a firm’s or an individual’s ability to audit public companies or broker-dealers.
As required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, PCAOB investigations and disciplinary proceedings are confidential and nonpublic.
Settled Disciplinary Orders
The PCAOB posts all settled orders that the Board has reached with registered firms or their associated persons.
Adjudicated Final Board Actions
The PCAOB posts publicly available opinions, orders, and other final Board actions imposing sanctions in litigated disciplinary proceedings, as well as related SEC and court actions on review of those sanctions.
Tips and Referrals
The public can play a critical role in our enforcement efforts by letting us know when they see something amiss. PCAOB Chair Erica Y. Williams explains in this short video that the PCAOB evaluates every tip we receive.
Enforcing compliance with our auditing standards, rules, and related laws is a key part of the PCAOB’s oversight of the audits of public companies and broker-dealers.
Watch the video to learn more about how your tips help the PCAOB to protect investors.