Critical of Special Report

BY KENTON J. SICCHITANO

The JofA ’s report— “SEC Renews Push for More Oversight of Auditors” (Jul.00, page 16) —is either a careless misrepresentation of the facts or a deliberate slur.

While we in no way condone the independence infractions discovered in a comprehensive, two-year compliance review of all partners and staff at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the vast majority of infractions were, in the words of Chairman Levitt, minor and inadvertent. Under the newly proposed SEC independence rules, they would not constitute independence infractions at all.

Moreover, the author neglected to describe our corrective response: a massive, $25 million overhaul of our entire compliance system and the implementation of a state-of-the-art compliance quality control system that both the SEC and the AICPA have adopted as the model for all other firms.

The SECPS’s refusal to fund the POB’s review of independence compliance at the other large firms, albeit short-lived, was, in our view, nothing more than a transparent attempt to stall the review process and diminish its rigor. We opposed that decision at the time because we believed it was short-sighted and not in the best interests of the profession as a whole.

In fact, the independence compliance reviews of the other large firms, which are now under way, are a substantially diluted version of the compliance review process we undertook, covering far fewer people, a much shorter period and a limited number of independence rules.

On issues as substantive and complex as this, the JofA owes its readers all of the facts, not just those that support a particular point of view.

Kenton J. Sicchitano, CPA
Global Managing Partner
Independence and Regulatory Affairs
PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP
New York City

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