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SEC commissioner strikes back at chief accountant

TL;DR

  • Hester Pierce, the commissioner of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), recently voiced her concerns about a statement made by the SEC’s chief accountant, Paul Munter. 
  • Pierce expressed skepticism about discouraging good-faith efforts to provide more transparency, questioning the reasoning behind accounting firms being cautious about providing assurance work to crypto firms.
  • The SEC, as the primary regulatory authority, aims to strike a balance between encouraging transparency and accountability while also addressing potential risks and misleading practices.

Hester Pierce, the commissioner of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), recently voiced her concerns about a statement made by the SEC’s chief accountant, Paul Munter. The statement advised accounting firms to exercise caution when taking on non-audit work for crypto firms. In a tweet on July 28, Pierce challenged the notion of adopting an all-or-nothing approach in dealing with crypto firms and questioned the potential negative impact on transparency efforts.

Pierce emphasized the importance of crypto firms and accountants ensuring transparency, particularly regarding proof of reserves. However, she expressed skepticism about discouraging good-faith efforts to provide more transparency, questioning the reasoning behind accounting firms being cautious about providing assurance work to crypto firms.

On the other hand, Munter argued that partial engagements with crypto firms might lead to selective disclosures of certain aspects of the business, which could be presented to clients as a full audit. He raised concerns about such practices lacking transparency, which could mislead investors. Certain crypto asset trading platforms have marketed to investors their retention of third parties, including accounting firms, to review specific parts of their business, often passing it off as a purported “audit.”

SEC on transparency and accountability

Munter suggested that if an accounting firm discovers that a client is misrepresenting its non-audit work to the public, it should consider making a “noisy withdrawal.” This entails publicly disassociating itself from the client, including making its own public statements about the issue. Additionally, the accounting firm may report the client to the SEC.

Mike Shaub, an auditing and accounting ethics professor at Texas A&M University, responded to Munter’s statement in a tweet on July 29. He raised the issue of auditors being bound by confidentiality, making it challenging for them to make public statements as Munter suggested. This confidentiality requirement can potentially hinder auditors from addressing misleading statements by their clients effectively.

Shaub also highlighted a concerning practice where some accounting firms associate themselves with cryptocurrency expertise to enhance their reputation. However, when problems arise, these firms may become unresponsive and fail to address the issues adequately.

The ongoing debate between Pierce, Munter, and Shaub underscores the complexities and challenges of regulating the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry. The SEC, as the primary regulatory authority, aims to strike a balance between encouraging transparency and accountability while also addressing potential risks and misleading practices.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Lacton Muriuki

Lacton is an experienced journalist specializing in blockchain-based technologies, including NFTs and cryptocurrency. He dabbles in daily crypto news rich with well-researched stats. He adds aesthetic appeal, adding a human face to technology.

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