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November 26, 2009

Region Round-up

ASIA-PACIFIC

• The Asian-Oceanian Standard-Setters Group has adopted a memorandum of understanding that formally establishes the group and sets out four key objectives. The agreement was adopted at the group’s inaugural meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which was attended by more than 100 participants from 21 standard-setting bodies across Asia and Oceania.

The four goals were: promoting adoption of, and convergence with, IFRS within the region; promoting consistent application of IFRS within the region; co-ordinating input from the region to the technical activities of the International Accounting Standards Board; and co-operating with governments, regulators and other organisations to improve the quality of financial reporting in the region.

The second meeting will be held in Tokyo, Japan next year.

• The National Institute of Accountants in Australia (NIA) has appointed Christine Leetham as president. Leetham has been deputy president of the NIA since 2007 and a board member since 2002. She is also head teacher of accounting and finance at the Sydney Institute, a conservative think tank. Leetham succeeds Greg Dennis with immediate effect.

• The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) has appointed Stephen Po as chairman of Standing Committee 3 (SC3) on the regulation of market intermediaries. Po, a councillor of the CPA Australia Hong Kong China division, will serve as chairman for four years.

Po will be the first SC3 chairman from Asia and believes Hong Kong has a great opportunity to participate in the enhancement of global regulatory standards for intermediaries. The SC3, a part of IOSCO’s standard-setting framework, is comprised of 16 regulatory authorities in Europe, the US and Asia.

The committee is responsible for reviewing and proposing standards on the regulation and supervising market intermediaries in a cross-border environment.

• Australia’s Financial Reporting Council has reappointed members to the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) and the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AUASB).

The AASB has reappointed some members on a part-time basis from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2012. These are Queensland Treasury financial management branch director Sue Highland, KPMG Australia partner Kris Peach and New Zealand Financial Standards Reporting Board chair Joanna Perry.

The AUASB has reappointed part-time members for the same period. These are Pitcher Partners partner Dianne Aroor Hughes and Deloitte Australia partner Clive Mottershead.

• The New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants has named its 28 council members for 2009-2010. This includes Dinu Harry as president, Ross Jackson as vice-president, Graham Crombie as chair and Terry McLaughlin as chief executive.

NORTH AMERICA, LATIN AMERICA • The US National Association of State Boards of Accountancy has elected new board members for 2009-2010. Billy Atkinson is the new chairman, Michael Daggett is the vice-chairman, David Duree is the Southwest regional director, Telford Lodden is the central regional director and Daniel Sweetwood is the executive directors’ liaison officer.

• US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) commissioner Kathleen Casey said the US must continue to support the development of a single set of high quality global accounting standards or else it will fail the needs of investors, according to media reports.

Speaking at the Financial Executives International conference in New York, Casey said that, while the SEC is deciding on the future of US GAAP convergence with IFRS, investors still need a single set of rules for global companies.

At present, the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board are working to converge about a dozen accounting rules on topics including leasing and financial instrument accounting, which are due to be completed by mid-2011. Casey said it was “crucial” the US continued play a leading role in accounting standards but confirmed a review of the proposal to move US firms to IFRS was still ongoing.

• The US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has announced 19 new appointments and re-appointments to its Standing Advisory Group. New appointments include Grant Thornton national managing partner of professional standards John Archambault, PricewaterhouseCoopers assurance partner and US national office leader Michael Gallagher and Ernst & Young assurance partner Kevin Reilly.

Reappointments include Ehrhardt Keefe Steiner & Hottman audit partner and director of accounting and auditing quality Margaret Foran, and BDO Seidman partner and national director of assurance Wayne Kolins.

The members will serve two-year terms from January 2010.

• The US Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) is to merge with the US National Hispanic Business Association. The new organisation, ALPFA National, will have 14,000 members made up of 38 professional chapters and more than 85 college chapters.

• The Caribbean branch of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Barbados Small Business Association (BBSA) have signed a memorandum of understanding that will facilitate them working together to support the SME sector in the region. BBSA president Celeste Foster said the agreement would bring greater professionalism and accounting rigour to the SME sector.

• The Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) has appointed Marcia Taylor to a second five-year term as a member of the US Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).

Taylor has served as the assistant manager of Mt Lebanon, Pennsylvania since 1990.

Previously she was the town’s director of finance and has a background in auditing. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and has a master’s degree in public management.

Her appointment starts on 1 July 2010.

EUROPE

• A significant proportion of listed banks and insurers failed to comply with mandatory financial instruments disclosure requirements in their 2008 year end financial statements, according to analysis by the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR). CESR reviewed the 2008 financial statements of 96 listed banks and insurers, including 22 companies from the FTSE Eurotop 100 index. The analysis was intended to discover how the detailed requirements of IFRS 7 – Financial Instruments: Disclosures and other guidance had been applied.

Two areas where a significant proportion of companies failed to comply with mandatory disclosure requirements were the use of valuation techniques on relationships with special purpose entities.

CESR accounting and enforcement group chair Fernando Restoy welcomed the fact a significant number of companies made the voluntary disclosures, but said CESR expected a higher level of compliance with mandatory requirements.

• The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has launched a study into the corporate insolvency market that will explore the structure of the market and the appointment process for insolvency practitioners, focusing on areas that could result in harm such as higher fees or lower recovery rates for certain groups of creditors. This follows concerns raised by the UK Government regarding the Insolvency Service of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and the industry itself. The study will take data from accountancy firms, law practices, government departments, regulators and trade bodies.

The OFT intends to complete the first phase of the report by the end of 2010.

• The EC is seeking European stakeholder views on IFRS for SMEs as part of its ongoing review of the Fourth and Seventh Company Law Directives. The commission began a review of the directives in February. The initial comment period closed at the end of April and a legislative proposal was due for release by the end of the year.

But following the release of the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) IFRS for SMEs in August, the EC decided to take more time reviewing the directives to include a consultation on the new standard. The comment period ends on 12 March 2010.

• Few European SMEs plan to adopt IFRS for SMEs unless it becomes mandatory, according to a survey by Nexia International. Seventy-three percent of Nexia members surveyed supported the adoption of a common set of accounting standards for non-listed companies throughout Europe. However, 38 percent said companies in their countries will not adopt the standard until it is mandated by national standard setters.

• The UK Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) has finalised proposed changes to its accountancy disciplinary scheme.

This includes a change to the evidential test to be applied before a matter proceeds to a disciplinary tribunal and the introduction of a desirability test; new procedures to appoint tribunal and appeal tribunal members by an independent convener; a new power to conduct preliminary enquiries, subject to an agreed protocol, before making a decision to investigate; a restriction of the tribunal’s discretion to award costs against the board to circumstances where the AADB is found to have acted unreasonably; and changes to the tribunal’s voting arrangements.

AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST, SOUTH ASIA

The Institute for Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has set up a members advisory board consisting of members based across the Middle East. Chaired by Ernst & Young country partner Edward Quilan, the board will be comprised of accountants, members in business and academics.

Its main purposes is to work with ICAEW regional director Amanda Line to identify the key business issues that affect accountancy and finance professions in the region, act as a networking facility and provide strategic advice on the institute’s Middle East activity.

• The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) has appointed Tajinder Singh as deputy secretary general. Singh is the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) head of international affairs and human resource development. He is also an executive assistant to the SEBI chairman.

Singh will continue his role as vice-chairman of the implementation task force of IOSCO. He will take up his new post in January 2010.

Deloitte has hinted it is in line to pick up the audits for Mahindra Satyam.

In an interview with US media, Deloitte’s global chief executive Jim Quigley suggested Deloitte would be appointed the new auditors of Mahindra Satyam, the successor to troubled software company Satyam, going as far as saying it was a “done deal”.

In January this year Satyam’s founder and chairman Ramalinga Raju admitted to fraud totalling more than $1.44 billion, the biggest ever corporate fraud in India’s history. At the time, PricewaterhouseCoopers was Satyam’s statutory auditor. Deloitte and KPMG were subsequently chosen to assist with the restatement of the software company’s fraudulent accounts.

• The Institute of Chartered Accountants in India (ICAI) temporarily withdrew its disciplinary proceedings against the Delhi branch of Price Waterhouse (PW) in relation to the Satyam fraud.

According to local media reports, the Indian accounting regulator agreed to withdraw the proceedings after the Delhi High Court objected to the ICAI taking action against the Delhi firm without giving any evidence that it was related to PW Bangalore, which was the statutory auditor of Satyam.

Although none of the recent media reports mentioned the exact nature of the withdrawn proceedings, the ICAI’s disciplinary committee had found Price Waterhouse Kolkata and Price Waterhouse New Delhi prima facie guilty of professional misconduct in September.

The overturn followed a petition, presented by PW, claiming the proceedings against its Delhi firm were illegal as it had no connection with the Bangalore-based firm.

The court will allow the Indian regulator to issue a fresh notice to the Delhi firm if further evidence of its involvement in the scam is found by the ICAI. The ICAI has indicated it intends to do this.

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