PCAOB Simplifies Whistleblowing, Opens Hot Line

As the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board completes its reports on voluntary inspections of the Big Four accounting firms, the Board is finding more people willing to come forward to report corporate wrong-doing.

The PCAOB, created to crack down on the accounting and auditing industry by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, is opening a new hotline today that will make it easier for employees to report problems.

With Time magazine citing several corporate whistleblowers as its “People of the Year” for 2003, reporters of corporate wrongdoing are now seen as heroes in most cases.

"We want to allow them to have an easy avenue" to report wrongdoing, board member Charles Niemeier said Monday in an interview with the Associated Press.

The Board has received numerous tips from current and former employees of companies and accounting firms over the last few months, the AP reported, adding some of them are anonymous.

The new PCAOB system for reporting tips and concerns is run online and through a toll-free phone number. They system is intended to be more "user-friendly" and enhance public awareness, Claudius Modesti, the board's director of investigations and enforcement, told the AP.

It seems there are plenty of potential issues for whistleblowers to report. PCAOB Chairman William J. McDonough told Congress in June that its limited inspections of the so-called Big Four accounting firms uncovered "significant" problems in their audits of companies' books, the AP reported.

Niemeier, a former chief accountant of the SEC's enforcement division, called it "the age of whistleblowers" -- a new corporate culture in which "informants" are more likely to be valued than harassed, the AP reported.

PCAOB Contact Information:

Telephone: The toll-free number is 800-741-3158

E-mail: Messages can be sent to tips@pcaobus.org

Website: There is an online form for filing a complaint, providing a tip, or otherwise providing information at www.pcaobus.org.

Letter: Letters can be sent to PCAOB Complaint Center, 1666 K Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20006, or faxed to 202-862-8435.

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