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SEC ponders Big Four minus one: report
Newspaper says officials weighing contingencies for the collapse of a Big Four accounting firm.
August 11, 2005: 9:07 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Securities and Exchange Commission officials are discussing possible steps in the event of a collapse of one of the Big Four accounting firms, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The talks, which began after the demise of Arthur Andersen three years ago, have taken on greater importance in the wake of news that the Justice Department may indict KPMG LLP for allegedly peddling illegal tax shelters.

The SEC is considering making it easier for companies to switch auditors in the event KPMG or another Big Four firm is indicted or collapses, the Journal said, but no formal plan has been approved.

According to the newspaper, the SEC is trying to put a contingency plan in place to aid companies that would need to move quickly to find a replacement auditor.

Any plan would have to be approved by SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, the newspaper said.

"We have scenarios in place for any eventuality that could come out of this, and we're prepared to deal with it," an SEC official said, according to the newspaper.

The Big Four -- KPMG, Deloitte & Touche LLP, Ernst & Young LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP -- audited more than 78 percent of public companies in the U.S., according to a report cited by the newspaper.

KPMG apologized for helping set up illegal tax shelters, click here for more.  Top of page

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