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Accounting industry and SEC defang America’s audit watchdog

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auditing industryJames Schnurr, just two months into his job as chief accountant at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, stood before a packed ballroom in Washington last December and upbraided a little-known regulator.

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, oversees the big firms that sign off on the books of America’s listed companies. And the board was “moving too slowly,” Schnurr said, to address auditing failures that in recent years had shaken public confidence in those firms.

These were fighting words in the decorous auditing profession, and they hit their target. PCAOB Chairman James Doty was among those attending the annual accounting-industry gala where Schnurr spoke. And Schnurr was Doty’s new supervisor.

“This is going to get ugly,” Doty said to a colleague afterward.


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