By Katanga Johnson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday named defense attorney Erica Williams as chair of the nation’s public accounting watchdog.
The SEC said it appointed Williams head of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. She previously managed legal and operational functions of the agency, including workflow relating to recommendations from the SEC’s compliance division. She also oversaw “significant personnel, labor and employment matters,” it added.
The agency said acting chair Duane Desparte will continue to serve as a board member.
In June, the SEC voted to remove https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nr3cpacf-nr3cpac-us-usa-sec-pcaob-idTRNIKCN2DH01H the head of the oversight board that sets standards for audits of public companies and said it planned to replace the rest of the board in due course.
It said at the time that it would solicit additional members as it sought to replace the chair.
On Monday, the SEC also named former Democratic-appointed SEC commissioner Kara Stein and two others as members of the accounting watchdog.
“With these additions to the Board, the PCAOB will have the leadership to meet the mission given to it by Congress — ensuring that public company financial disclosures can be trusted by investors,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler.
The PCAOB, created by the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act following major accounting scandals, has long been criticized by Democrats for being toothless.
Hawks want it to take a tougher stance on Chinese auditors of U.S.-listed Chinese companies which have generally evaded U.S. oversight.The announcement of what the SEC said is “the most diverse board in the PCAOB’s history” — a reference to the panel’s first non-white membership and leadership — is widely expected to help raise the quality of audits and assist the SEC by inspecting and fining auditors in breach of the rules, advocates say.
(Reporting by Katanga Johnson in Washington, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and David Gregorio)