SEC Charges China Affiliates of Big Four

China-based audit firms are withholding documents, agency says.

U.S. regulators probing potential fraud by China-based companies increased pressure on their auditors by formally accusing affiliates of Big Four firms of withholding documents from investigators.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd., Ernst & Young Hua Ming LLP, KPMG Huazhen and PricewaterhouseCoopers Zhong Tian CPAs Limited have refused to cooperate with accounting fraud investigations into nine companies whose securities are publicly traded in the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission said in an administrative order today. The order also named BDO China Dahua Co. Ltd.

‘Legal Obligations’

“The fact that the action is being taken collectively against all of the four largest audit firms and one other firm demonstrates that this is a profession-wide issue,” Caroline Nolan, a PricewaterhouseCoopers spokeswoman, said in an e-mail statement. “For its part, PwC China has cooperated with the SEC at every opportunity. However, PwC China will, and must, comply with its legal obligations under China law.”

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