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Big Four Escape SEC Wrath

While the Securities and Exchange Commission has trumpeted its record 598 enforcement actions for 2002, a Washington Post investigation noted that the actions were skewed toward smaller firms with only two Big Four auditors targeted for any sanctions or censure.
The paper found that the SEC was much more likely to discipline auditors employed by smaller accounting firms.

Former SEC commissioner Bevis Longstreth told the paper that the agency has historically had a tough time taking on the “those big boys, but one has to do it because otherwise (they’re) encouraged to feel that they can push the SEC around,” he said.

Insiders say the big problem is that bigger firms have the money and power to fight SEC actions and defend themselves, while smaller firms generally settle because they don’t have the resources to battle the government.

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