The US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is delaying the
2009 inspection deadline of 49 registered non-US public accounting
firms.

An amendment to the audit watchdog’s rules
allows it to postpone the first inspection of any
foreign-registered public accounting firm that the board was
required to conduct before the end of 2009 and that is in a
jurisdiction the board had not conducted an inspection in before
2009.

These inspections can be postponed for up to
three years.

The rule does not extend the deadline for
other non-US inspections currently required this year.

It also does not affect inspection frequency
requirements for any other inspections of firms.

Under the Sarbanes Oxley Act, non-US firms
registered with the PCAOB must undergo inspections at least once
every three years.

The board said the delays took place to allow
inspections to occur co-operatively with the watchdog’s non-US
counterparts.

The board will conduct the inspections of the
49 firms in question between 2009 and 2012, according to a specific
schedule that is prioritised in relation to the market
capitalisation of the firms’ issuer clients.

By the end of 2009, the board will inspect
firms whose combined audit clients’ US market capitalisation makes
up 35 percent of the aggregate US market capitalisation of the
audit clients of all 49 firms.

By the end of 2010, the PCAOB will have
completed inspections of firms whose clients make up 90 percent of
that aggregate market capitalisation.

The PCAOB is also implementing a new
transparency measure related to the rule change.

The board will post a list of registered firms
that have not had their first inspection, despite more than four
years having passed since they first issued an audit report while
registered with the board.

PCAOB director of international affairs Rhonda
Schnare said these transparency measures will be an important tool
for accountability and also inform the public about the status of
the board’s international inspection programme.

To date, the PCAOB has conducted 140
inspections of non-US firms in 26 jurisdictions.