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EUROPEANISSUERS’POSITIONONOVERSIGHTOFSTATUTORYAUDITORSBYTHIRDCOUNTRIESOVERSIGHTBODIESCONFIDENTIALITYOFINFORMATIONPOSITION29JUNE2009I) BackgroundThestatutoryauditorsofEuropeancompanieslistedintheUnitedStatesaresubjecttoregistrationandinspectionsbytheUSauthorities,namelythePCAOBandtheSEC.th IntheframeworkoftheDirective2006/43/ECon“statutoryaudits”,hereinafterthe“8Directive”,EUauditoversightbodiesmayenterintocooperationagreementswiththirdcountriesoversightbodiesprovidedthoseauthoritiesareconsideredequivalentbyaEuropeanCommissiondecision.InJanuary2009theCommissionpublishedadraftDecisionfordiscussionwithMemberStateslistingthethirdcountriespublicoversightbodiesthatwouldbeconsideredequivalenttotheEUcounterparties.HoweverthedraftDecisionwasputonholdbecausethePCAOBdoesnotgrantreciprocitytoEUoversightbodiesnordoesitforeseeconfidentiality.AslongastheCommission’sDecisionwillnothavebeenpublished,allstakeholders(MemberStates,EUoversightbodies,statutoryauditorsandauditedcompanies)willbeinasituationoflegaluncertainty.Indeeditisnotclearwhattheimpactofthe8thDirectiveisonpreviousagreementsmadewiththeUSoversightbodies.Shouldpreviousagreementsbemaintained?ShouldseparatediscussionswithUSbodiesbeenteredinto?WewouldregretsuchanonEUapproachforitwouldnotbringtheharmonisationwanted.Withinthatframeworkandatleastinatransitionalphase,theUSauthoritiesenvisagetocarryoutjointinspectionsintheEuropeanUnion,underconditionsthatarenotsatisfactoryforlistedcompanies,for:theconfidentialityofdocumentsrelatingtoauditedcompaniesandofinformationcommunicatedbythosecompanieswouldnotbesafeguarded;thetransferofdatabytheUSauditoversightbodiestootherUSauthorities ‐taxadministration,competitionauthorities,etcwouldnotbeexplicitlyprohibited(evenif,th accordingtoarticle47/2/cofthe8Directivetheauditoversightbodieswouldbeallowedtousethatinformationonly«fortheexerciseoftheirfunctionsofpublicoversight,qualityassuranceandinvestigations»).EuropeanIssuers’RegistrationnumberwiththeEuropeanCommission26066491429191
II) EuropeanIssuersViews1 AstheCommissionerfortheInternalMarketandServicesstatedinFebruary2009 ,itisessentialtoensurethattheUnitedStatesarereadytocooperatewiththeEuropeanUnionfully,baseduponmutualtrustandmutualassistance.Listedcompanieswouldwelcomeatransatlanticagreement.Howeverwealsobelievethatafirmpositionontheprincipleofreciprocityandonconfidentialityrulesisfundamental,inparticularregardingthetransferofdocumentsrelatingtoauditedcompaniesandofanyinformationcommunicatedbythosecompanies.Moreover,itshouldbedefinedatEuropeanlevelwhichdocumentsandinformationarewithinthescopeofarticle47/1oftheth 8Directive.Moreprecisely,EuropeanIssuerstakesthefollowingviews:Listedcompaniesmustnotbepenalisedbyanymeasuretakenbyathirdcountryoversightbodythatwouldresultincontraveninglistingrules,innotrecognizingtheopinionexpressedbytheirstatutoryauditor(s),inbeingobligedtochangestatutoryauditorsorinsignificantadditionalauditwork;Thecooperationagreementswiththirdcountriesshouldclearlystatetheobjectiveofmutualrecognitioninthenearfuture,withouttransferofauditdocumentsorofotherauditrelateddocuments;ThedialoguebetweentheEuropeanCommissionandtheUScompetentauthoritiesshouldcontinueinordertobettertakeintoaccounttheEuropeaninterests.ThedurationoftheCommission’sDecisionshouldbelimitedintime.Additionally,concerningthecompetenceofthePCAOBtheDecisionshouldcontainlimitationsliketheprohibitionthatthePCAOBisnotentitledtotransferalltypesofinformation;TheCommission’sdraftDecisionshouldbeadaptedasfollows:whileaffirmingtheobjectiveofmutualtrust,itshouldprohibitthetransfertoUSauthoritiesofdocumentsrelatedtoauditedcompanies,ofinformationcommunicatedbythosecompaniesorofinformationenablingauditedcompaniestobeidentified;Whenthirdcountries’authoritiesparticipateininspectionsofstatutoryauditorsinEuropeorwouldobservethoseinspections,suchshouldnotleadtothosethirdcountriesfindingaccesstotheaboveinformation;WeshouldlookatpossiblewaystoovercometheUSlegalprovisionsthatwouldpreventtheUSfromgivingguaranteestotheEuropeanUnionconcerningthetransferofdocumentsbytheUScompetentauthoritiestootherUSauthorities._______________________1 See“AuditWorkingpapersStatementCharlieMcCreevyCommissionerfortheInternalMarketandServices”,19February2009athttp://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/auditing/relations/index_en.htm. EuropeanIssuers’RegistrationnumberwiththeEuropeanCommission26066491429192
EuropeanIssuersisapanEuropeanorganisationsetuptopromotetheinterestsofissuingcompanies.Itsmembersarenationalassociationsandcompaniesfrom14Europeancountriescountingtogethersome9.200listedcompanieswithacombinedmarketvalueofsome4.500billion.AssuchitrepresentsthevastmajorityofpubliclyquotedcompaniesinEurope.ThemembersofEuropeanIssuerscomefromvarioussectorsincludingautomotive,nutrition,energy,healthcare,construction,financialservicesandmanymore.WhatbringsthemtogetherinEuropeanIssuersisthattheyareallownedbythepublic,makingthemsubjecttoanimpressivesetofcomplexandstringentrulesandregulations.ThroughEuropeanIssuerslistedcompaniescanengageindirectdiscussionswiththedecisionmakersatEuropean,transAtlanticandgloballevel.Typicalareasofinterestincludeshareholderrights,corporategovernance,transparency,clearingandsettlementaswellasfinancialreportingandauditing.Ourultimategoalistoachievefullyintegrated,liquidandwellfunctioningEuropeanfinancialmarkets.Moreinformationcanbefoundonwww.europeanissuers.eu.
EuropeanIssuers’RegistrationnumberwiththeEuropeanCommission2606649142919
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