Ernst & Young paying $4M to settle SEC charges over lobbying Congress for 2 audit clients

Ernst & Young has agreed to pay $4 million to settle civil charges of compromising its independence by lobbying Congress on behalf of two companies whose books it audited.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Monday with New York-based company, one of the so-called Big Four accounting firms with Deloitte, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The SEC said employees of Washington Council EY, a lobbying subsidiary of Ernst & Young, met with congressional staff and tried to influence pending legislation on the two companies' behalf. It didn't name the companies or the legislation.

The violations occurred prior to 2009, the SEC said.

Ernst & Young said in a statement, "We regret these instances that arose many years ago and are pleased to put this matter behind us."