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

MarketsAssociated 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.

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.

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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.