A Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into the independence of Pricewaterhouse accountants working at communications firm Pinnacle Holdings has been made formal.
The move follows an 'informal' investigation launched in August, and has been greeted with muted annoyance by the communication site provider.
Pinnacle told the press that the firm "has become unfairly embroiled in the policy and political debate over these issues and that, as a result, the market value of its shareholders' interests' in the company have been unduly harmed."
The value of shares in the company has plummeted as much as 50% since the news of the inquiry was inadvertantly released by the SEC. Normally SEC investigative orders are kept confidential until charges are filed. SEC spokesman, John Heine commented that, "The document was inadvertantly made public, and we've taken steps to make sure this doesn't happen again."
Representatives from Pinnacle said that the firm and its accountants have cooperated fully with SEC inquiries so far, and both were confident that all financial statements were in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
Neither Pinnacle nor PwC have indicated what type of non-audit services had been performed. "PwC is confident its relationship with Pinnacle was entirely consistent with our professional obligations for independence with respect to audit clients," said PwC spokesman David Nestor.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently working with Congress to implement new rules that could restrict the independence of auditors.