Chinese Companies Readying for Tough U.S. Audit Rules

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Chinese companies listed in the United States are pouring time and money into preparations to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

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The new rules, which require an audit of internal controls, go into effect July 15, and Chinese companies are scrambling to meet the deadline.

"The stage they're at now is very similar to where U.S. companies were in 2004," said Lester Sussman, the California-based managing director of resources audit solutions for Resources Global Professionals. "The Chinese and Hong Kong companies will benefit somewhat from the experiences of companies in the U.S.,” he told Reuters.

Sussman said some Chinese companies are considering delisting shares in the U.S. because Sarbanes-Oxley expenses could amount to $7 million.

China's economy is expanding greatly every year, and it is now the fourth-largest economy in the world. Almost 450 of the world's Fortune 500 companies are invested in China and have regional headquarters there, the Age of Australia reported.

Meanwhile, one Big Four firm in the U.S. is being investigated for its role in a 2005 scandal involving a Chinese refrigerator maker. Deloitte faces a China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) hearing involving its unqualified audit opinion in 2004 of Guangdong Kelon Electrical Holdings Co.

A Kelon investor has also sued Deloitte under China's three-month-old securities law, China Daily reported. Shanghai's Huangpu People's Court must decide whether to accept the case.

Former Kelon executives were accused of inflating sales and embezzling at least 592 million yuan, or $73 million.

"We are confident that our audit of Kelon adhered in all material respects to the audit standards of China and those of Deloitte," a Deloitte letter to its staff said. "In fact, in this case, we were one of the victims of the fraud carried out by a number of parties both inside and outside the company."

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