SUSPENDED: A U.S. judge has ruled the China branches of global accounting firms should be barred from providing audits for U.S.-traded companies in a dispute that might force major corporate names such as oil giant PetroChina and search engine Baidu to withdraw from American stock exchanges.
THE RULING: In a ruling Wednesday, an administrative law judge for the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission said Chinese firms affiliated with the "Big Four" accounting firms — PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, KPMG and Ernst & Young — acted improperly when they withheld documents from fraud investigators. The firms said Chinese law barred them from releasing the documents.
NEXT STEP: The Big Four firms said in a joint statement they would appeal. If the penalty is upheld, it might leave dozens of Chinese companies with no way to provide audits required in order to have their shares traded on U.S.exchanges.