Chinese affiliates of 'Big Four' accounting firms settle with SEC in dispute over fraud probes

Markets Associated Press

The Chinese affiliates of the "Big Four" accounting firms have agreed to pay a total $2 million and provide documents in a settlement with U.S. regulators resolving a yearslong dispute over fraud investigations.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday announced the deal with the Chinese arms of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, KPMG and Ernst & Young. They each will pay a $500,000 penalty. The deal resolves a dispute that pitted China's assertion of its sovereignty against efforts of U.S. regulators to crack down on corporate fraud and questionable accounting.

An administrative law judge at the SEC ruled in January 2014 that the Chinese-affiliated firms acted improperly when they withheld audit documents from investigators looking into possible fraud by Chinese companies trading on U.S. exchanges.