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GM ending consulting work by auditor Deloitte

General Motor Corp., the world's largest automaker, will cease its consulting work by its accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, a move which highlights growing scrutiny by investors that such ties could hinder auditor independence, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The newspaper said GM paid Deloitte $102 million in 2001, the latest year for which figures are available, of which $21 million was for audit work.

Little over a week ago, Deloitte abandoned plans to spin off its consulting unit after the unit's management team failed to obtain adequate financing to fund the deal.

The Big Four accounting firm had reluctantly agreed to spin off Deloitte Consulting last year after the Enron-Andersen debacle sparked an outcry against accountants providing consulting services to their clients.

A GM spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment early on Monday morning.

On Friday AutoNation Inc., the top U.S. car dealer chain and a Deloitte auditing client, said it would begin searching for a new independent auditor as plans for Deloitte's consulting arm spinoff had hit a snag.

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