The US Big Four have increased the amount they spend on lobbyists to $9.4m as pressure mounts over the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (PCAOB) audit reform proposals.
In the 2011 congressional disclosure reports, Deloitte spent $3m on lobbyists, followed by PwC with $2.7m, Ernst & Young $2.2m and KPMG $1.5m, according to news agency Reuters.
The lobbying budget of the largest US firms has increased nearly two-fold since records of Big Four lobbying efforts began in 1999.
The money spent in 2011 is the highest amount since 2002 when the Enron scandal resulted in the collapse of accounting firm Arthur Anderson, leading to the creation of Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the PCAOB.
According to Reuters, a significant portion of the Big Four money goes towards trying to influence the audit regulator, which last year launched a consultation on auditor independence and mandatory audit firm rotation as a way to enhance independence, objectivity and professional scepticism.
EC lobbying intensifies
Much like the US, Big Four firms in Europe are also spending increasing amounts on lobbying against similar proposals from the European Commission, which are currently being assessed by the European Parliament in order to water them down before they become law.
The cost of lobbying in Europe is not disclosed, however, it is believed there are about 60 European lobbyists working for PwC alone.
Reuters said other Big Four lobbying efforts in the US involve topics such as policies that could affect consulting work the firms do on contract for US agencies, while a proportion of lobbying money could not be traced to its cause.