U.S. SEC to review accounting rules roadmap

October 9, 2009

By Huw Jones
BASEL, Switzerland, Oct 8 (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will review by the end of the autumn its milestones for possible adoption of a global set of accounting rules, its chairman Mary Schapiro said on Thursday.

The G20 group of countries agreed in the U.S. city of Pittsburgh last month to adopt a single set of high quality global accounting rules by mid-2011.

The United States is a member of the G20 and has in effect committed to meeting this deadline, putting pressure on the SEC to adopt International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

“We have to re-evaluate the milestones about whether they are the right ones. We are still a couple of steps back from making firm decisions,” Schapiro told Reuters on the sidelines of an international regulation conference.

The SEC has said in the past it would decide in 2011 whether it would adopt IFRS in 2014.

In her speech to the International Organisation of Securities Commission’s (IOSCO) conference, Schapiro welcomed moves by the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) which sets IFRS rules, to revise standards in light of the financial crisis.

“I applaud the quick reaction and ambitious timeline that accounting standard setters have laid out to revise the standards in question,” Schapiro said.

Both boards are revising their fair value standards which have required banks to value some assets at very depressed market rates, triggering big writedowns that rattled investors.

“We want ot make sure accounting standards are ‘right’ and that those standards are the same when markets are going up as when they are going down,” Schapiro added.

She was still committed to the goal of a global set of high quality accounting standards.

“I also believe that there are issue that will be critical to address as we at the SEC consider the input we have received on last year’s proposed roadmap on the role of international standards in the U.S.,” she said.

The IASB has already warned that it will be difficult to continue having U.S. representatives on its board unless the United States gave a firm commitment to adopt IFRS rules.

Other speakers at the IOSCO conference said the G2O deadline will be tough to meet, with divergent approaches between FASB and IASB over reforming fair value not helping. (Reporting by Huw Jones, Editing by Toby Chopra) ((Reuters messaging: huw.jones.reuters.com@reuters.net; + 44 207 542 3326; huw.jones@thomsonreuters.com))

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