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SEC和PCAOB声明:冠状病毒对财务报告影响

来源:继民财经汇微信公众号   发布时间:2020-02-21  作者:继民财经汇   编辑:无忧草

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核心提示:美国证监会(SEC)表示,正在推动"四大"会计师事务所加强对在美国上市中国企业的审计工作内部管控,特别是新型冠状病毒疫情带来的商业风险日益增大。

原标题为:SECPCAOB联合声明:冠状病毒对财务报告的影响,中概股和会计师们注意了......

美国证监会(SEC)表示,正在推动"四大"会计师事务所加强对在美国上市中国企业的审计工作内部管控,特别是新型冠状病毒疫情带来的商业风险日益增大。

由于疫情导致人员无法正常上班,美国证监会要求密切关注疫情对审计质量的影响。

“在事件发展过程中,上市公司如何计划并对事件作出响应对投资决策至关重要,我们督促上市公司与审计委员会、审计师一道,确保他们的财务报表,审计和审查过程在合理范围内尽量做到无懈可击,”美国证监会主席克莱顿(Jay Clayton)在与会计委员会主席的一份联合声明中表示。

克莱顿(Jay Clayton)还表示,如果上市公司因疫情导致业务受扰,无法按计划向SEC提交经正常审核的信息披露文件,SEC将给予一定灵活性。SEC的工作人员将决定是否向受影响各方提供额外指导,以及适当放松要求。有关放松要求可能以个案或普遍适用的方式实施,视乎具体情况而定。

以下是SEC 主席和PCAOB 主席的联合声明

(中文翻译仅供参考)

Statement on Continued Dialogue with Audit Firm Representatives on Audit Quality in China and Other Emerging Markets;Coronavirus —Reporting Considerations and Potential Relief

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton

SEC Division of Corporation Finance Director Bill Hinman

SEC Chief Accountant Sagar Teotia

PCAOB Chairman William D.Duhnke III

Feb.19,2020

关于就中国及其他新兴市场的审计质量继续与审计事务所代表进行对话的声明;冠状病毒—报告注意事项和潜在的缓解措施

SEC主席Jay Clayton

SEC公司融资部总监Bill Hinman

SEC总会计师Sagar Teotia

PCAOB主席William D.Duhnke III

2020年2月19日

In November 2019,we met with senior representatives of the four largest U.S.audit firms,including certain of their network representatives,to discuss audit quality across their global networks and certain of the challenges faced in auditing public companies with operations in emerging markets,including China.Those November 2019meetings,which were discussed in a contemporaneous joint press release,[1]were part of our ongoing efforts to address the issues highlighted in our December 2018Statement on the vital role of audit quality and regulatory access to audit and other information internationally.[2]Significantly,among those issues is that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB)continues to be prevented from inspecting the audit work and practices of PCAOB-registered audit firms in China on a comparable basis to other non-U.S.jurisdictions.[3]PCAOB inspections are a key component of our regulatory efforts to enhance the quality of financial reporting and ensure audit quality.

2019年11月,我们会见了美国四大审计公司的高级代表,包括他们的某些成员所代表,讨论了其全球网络的审计质量以及审计在包括中在内的新兴市场运营的上市公司所面临的某些挑战。在同期联合新闻稿中讨论的那些2019年11月会议[1]是我们为解决2018年12月声明中强调的问题而进行的工作的一部分,该声明关于审计质量以及监管机构在国际上获取审计和其他信息的至关重要性。[2]值得注意的是,其中一个问题是,与美国以外的其他司法管辖区相比,上市公司会计监督委员会(PCAOB)仍被阻止检查在PCAOB注册的中审计公司的审计工作和实务。[3]PCAOB检查是我们提高财务报告质量和确保审计质量的监管工作的重要组成部分。

Over the past decade,U.S.investors,and the U.S.capital markets more generally,have become more exposed to companies with significant operations in emerging markets,including China,the largest emerging market economy.[4]Collectively,the four largest audit firms through their global networks audit the financial statements of approximately 140China and China-based,U.S.exchange-listed,public companies,[5]and the China and Hong Kong network firms for these four audit firms participated in 5%or more of the total audit hours in approximately 120instances[6]related to non-China,U.S.listed companies with operations in China.[7]United States investors and our capital markets also have exposure to other foreign-based,U.S.listed companies that have operations in China,[8]as well as through investments,directly and indirectly,in non-U.S.listed companies that are based in China or have significant operations in China.

在过去的十年中,美国投资者和更广泛的美国资本市场越来越多地接触在新兴市场具有重要业务的公司,包括最大的新兴市场经济体中国。[4]总体而言,四家最大的审计公司通过其全球网络成员所审计了大约140家中中国在美国交易所上市的公众公司[5]的财务报表;在大约120个实例[6]即:在中国经营业务的非中国美国上市公司中。“四大”审计公司的中国和中国香港成员所参与的的审计总时数超过5%或以上。[7]美国投资者和我们的资本市场也有机会接触在中国有业务的其他外国在美上市公司,[8]以及通过直接或间接投资那些位于中国或者在中国有重大业务的非美国上市公司的投资。

In our November 2019meetings,we made it clear that with the PCAOB restricted in its inspection efforts in China we expected U.S.audit firms to bring appropriate increased attention and resources to their internal and cross-network quality control processes.Over the last two weeks,the four of us met again with the leaders of the four largest U.S.audit firms,to discuss their efforts in this regard since November 2019.These meetings addressed various issues,including acceptance and retention policies,independent internal and cross-network review processes,training,benchmarking and the anticipated and potential effects of the 2019novel coronavirus (see below).The meetings are part of a broader,continuing dialogue with U.S.audit firms and network representatives regarding the importance of effective and consistent oversight of member firms globally,including those operating in China and other emerging markets.

在2019年11月的会议中,我们明确指出,由于PCAOB在中的检查工作受到限制,我们希望美国审计公司能够对其内部和跨国成员所质量控制流程给予更多的关注和资源。在过去的两周中,我们四人再次与美国四大审计公司的负责人会面,讨论了自2019年11月以来在这方面的工作。这些会议涉及各种问题,包括客户接受和保留政策,独立的内部和内部-成员所审查过程,培训,基准测试以及2019年新型冠状病毒的预期和潜在影响(见下文)。这些会议是与美国审计公司和及其成语所代表进行的广泛而持续的对话的一部分,该对话涉及对全球成员公司(包括在中国和其他新兴市场经营的成员公司)进行有效,持续监督的重要性。

We expect to have similar meetings with other U.S.audit firms that,through use of their own networks or otherwise,audit U.S.-listed companies with significant operations in emerging markets,including China.我们预计将与其他美国审计公司举行类似的会议,通过使用自己的网络或其他方式,对在包括中国在内的新兴市场有重要业务的美国上市公司进行审计。

Effects of the Coronavirus on Financial Reporting

冠状病毒对财务报告的影响

In a January 30,2020statement,Chairman Clayton noted that the Commission staff would monitor,and to the extent appropriate,provide guidance and other assistance to issuers and other market participants regarding disclosures related to the current and potential effects of the coronavirus.[9]That statement noted that actual effects may be difficult to assess or predict with meaningful precision both generally and on an industry-and issuer-specific bases.

克莱顿主席在2020年1月30日的声明中指出,委员会工作人员将监控并在适当范围内就与冠状病毒当前和潜在影响有关的披露向发行人和其他市场参与者提供指导和其他帮助。[9]]该声明指出,一般而言以及在特定行业和特定发行人的基础上,可能很难以有意义的精度来评估或预测实际影响。

As discussed above,U.S.-listed companies (including companies based in the U.S.,companies based in China and companies based outside of the U.S.but not based in China)may have significant operations in China and other jurisdictions that may be affected by the coronavirus.In addition,companies that do not themselves have operations in China or other potentially affected jurisdictions may depend on companies that do have operations in those jurisdictions,including,for example,as suppliers,distributors and/or customers.如上所述,在美国上市的公司(包括总部在美国的公司,在中国的公司和在美国境外但不在中国的公司)可能会在中国和其他受冠状病毒影响的辖区开展重要业务。此外,本身没有在中国或其他可能受影响的司法管辖区运营的公司,可能取决于在这些司法管辖区拥有业务的公司,例如,包括供应商,分销商和/或客户。

In our recent dialogue with the senior leaders of the largest U.S.audit firms,we also discussed this potential exposure of companies to the effects of the coronavirus and the impact that exposure could have on financial disclosures and audit quality,including,for example,audit firm access to information and company personnel.This remains a dynamic situation where the effects on any particular company may be difficult to assess or predict,because actual effects may depend on factors beyond the control and knowledge of issuers.However,how issuers plan and respond to the events as they unfold can be material to an investment decision,and we urge issuers to work with their audit committees and auditors to ensure that their financial reporting,auditing and review processes are as robust as practicable in light of the circumstances in meeting the applicable requirements.在我们最近与美国最大的审计公司高层领导人的对话中,我们还讨论了公司受到冠状病毒影响的潜在风险以及该风险可能对财务披露和审计质量产生的影响,例如,包括审计公司获取信息和对被审计公司人员的接触。在这种动态情况下,对任何特定公司的影响可能难以评估或预测,因为实际影响可能取决于发行人无法控制和了解的因素。但是,发行人在事件发生时如何计划和应对事件可能对投资决策至关重要,我们敦促发行人与他们的审计委员会和审计师合作,以确保其财务报告,审计和审查流程在可行的情况下尽可能健壮。根据情况满足适用要求。

Specifically,we emphasized:(1)the need to consider potential disclosure of subsequent events in the notes to the financial statements in accordance with guidance included in Accounting Standards Codification 855,Subsequent Events[10]and (2)our general policy to grant appropriate relief from filing deadlines in situations where,in light of circumstances beyond the control of the issuer,filings cannot be completed on time with appropriate review and attention.[11]In addition,if issuers have questions regarding the reporting of matters related to the potential effects of the coronavirus,including potential subsequent event disclosure,we welcome engagement on these matters.[12]具体来说,我们强调:(1)有必要根据《会计准则codification855,后续事件[10]》中的指导考虑在财务报表附注中潜在地披露后续事件,以及(2)我们的一般政策是在由于发行人无法控制的情况,而无法在适当的审查和关注下无法按时完成信息披露的情况下,给予在截止日期提交的豁免。[11]此外,如果发行人对与冠状病毒潜在影响有关的事项的报告(包括潜在的后续事件披露)有疑问,我们欢迎参与这些事项。[12]

Issuers and their advisors are encouraged to contact SEC staff regarding any need for relief or guidance.Based on these communications and its continuing monitoring of the situation,the staff will determine whether to provide additional guidance and relief as appropriate for affected parties.Relief may be made available on a case-by-case or broader basis as circumstances merit.鼓励发行人及其顾问就救济或指导的任何需要与SEC工作人员联系。基于这些沟通和对情况的持续监视,工作人员将确定是否为受影响的各方提供适当的其他指导和救济。视情况而定,可根据具体情况或更广泛地提供救济。

[1]See Press Release,SEC Chairman Clayton,PCAOB Chairman Duhnke,and Members of SEC Staff Meet With Auditing Firm Representatives to Discuss Audit Quality in Emerging Economies and Markets (Nov.4,2019),available at https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2019-228.

[2]See Statement on the Vital Role of Audit Quality and Regulatory Access to Audit and Other Information Internationally—Discussion of Current Information Access Challenges with Respect to U.S.-listed Companies with Significant Operations in China (Dec.7,2018),available at https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/statement-vital-role-audit-quality-and-regulatory-access-audit-and-other.

[3]This limitation includes audit work and practices of Hong Kong-based audit firms,to the extent their audit clients have operations in mainland China.

[4]China has the second largest economy in the world,with a reported gross domestic product of $14.3trillion in 2019.

[5]Based upon audit reports issued in the twelve months ending December 31,2019.

[6]Based upon the PCAOB’s Forms AP filed where the audit report date was within the twelve months ending December 31,2019.Form AP requires an audit firm be identified if it participates in 5%or more of the total audit hours of a U.S.listed company.

[7]The two largest (by market capitalization at December 31,2019)U.S.exchange-listed,public companies with operations in China have a market capitalization of approximately $2.8trillion,and the two largest (by market capitalization at December 31,2019)China-based,U.S.exchange-listed,public companies have a market capitalization of approximately $1.5trillion.

[8]The two largest (by market capitalization at December 31,2019)non-U.S.,non-China,U.S.listed companies with operations in China have a market capitalization of approximately $500billion.

[9]See Chairman Jay Clayton,Proposed Amendments to Modernize and Enhance Financial Disclosures;Other Ongoing Disclosure Modernization Initiatives;Impact of the Coronavirus;Environmental and Climate-Related Disclosure (Jan.30,2020),available athttps://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/clayton-mda-2020-01-30.

[10]Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)Accounting Standards Codification (ASC)855-10,Subsequent Events.

[11]See Press Release,SEC Provides Regulatory Relief and Assistance for Hurricane Victims (Oct.16,2018),available at https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2018-237.

[12]For certain year-end issuers,the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017presented potential uncertainties in financial reporting.The SEC staff issued guidance and worked with issuers to assist them in addressing these uncertainties.See Press Release,Commission Staff Provides Regulatory Guidance for Accounting Impacts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Dec.22,2017),available at https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2017-237.

以下文章是华尔街律所Kaufman &Canoles 发布的建议,供中概股和其会计师参考,经授权予本公众号转载。

WHAT CAN PRIOR NATURAL DISASTERS TEACH CHINESE PUBLIC COMPANIES?

By Anthony W.Basch,Corporate &Public Finance

先前的自然灾害能给与中国在美上市公司什么启示?

2020年1月30日,美国证券委员会(“SEC”)主席Jay Clayton声明他已指示SEC调查现发病毒对SEC合规事宜的当前影响。虽然该声明没有承诺SEC会为上市公司和其他受影响方提供合规要求方面的宽限,但也给与了有宽限可能性的希望。SEC是如何对待美国其他自然灾害带来的影响可能有助于各个公司了解当前病毒紧急状况对其自身合规报告义务的影响。

上市公司对提交合规报告截止日期的最大疑问之一是,如果逾期提交是否会影响他们使用货架注册声明的资格或股东依赖144规则的能力。事实是,如果公司合规报告义务被视为“逾期”,则其提交计划中的注册声明的资格可能会延迟一年,并且根据144规则如果公司的合规报告义务不是当前报告状态,那些持有非注册股票的股东是无法出售其股票的。

一般而言,SEC不会为个别公司提供其证券法报告义务截止日期的延期和通融。SEC通常不会出于其认为在上市公司或其他相关市场参与者的控制和了解范围内的原因向公司提供宽限及延期。SEC本身的指导意见说,报告义务合规要求的豁免“只有在非常有限的特殊情况下才给予”。此类豁免请求必须提交SEC首席律师办公室审查。我们事务所已经就目前的紧急情况与SEC首席法律顾问办公室进行沟通并被告知他们目前正在研究这一问题。截至本备忘录之日,SEC尚未公布关于现发病毒是否将作为向个别公司提供延缓报告义务的依据的政策决定。

但事实证明,当涉及到自然灾害时,SEC还是比较开明的。在前几次发生自然灾害时,SEC对上市公司合规报告期限给与过一定的额外延期。例如,2018年10月7日袭击佛罗里达州的第五类飓风“迈克尔”飓风在2018年10月16日结束。在该飓风结束的当天,SEC宣布对上市公司、投资公司、会计师、转让代理人、市政顾问和其他受飓风影响的公司给与合规要求截止期限的延期。从SEC延期通知日期是在飓风迈克尔结束当日发出来看,在目前的病毒情况下,中国的上市公司还没有看到此类的延期通知是正常的。一旦SEC更全面地理解了当前病毒状况及影响,它有可能会发出额外声明。出于这个原因,我们建议公司继续留意形势的发展。

当时针对于迈克尔飓风的影响,SEC延长了受影响的上市公司的货架申报资格以及股东在144规则下的资格,此延长声明是基于这些公司在飓风发生当日其报告义务状态是当前并按时的,那么该公司在2018年11月23日或之前提交的任何必需的报告被视为是当前并按时的。换句话说,任何自然灾害是帮不了那些在灾害发生之前就已处于报告义务逾期状态的公司。另一点是,该延期包括了SEC认为受影响公司需要补交报告必要的额外时间,所以该延期比当时灾害本身持续时间更长。尽管迈克尔飓风仅持续了一周,但它对公司的影响度在公司恢复正常运营后才有一定认知,SEC正是因为清楚这点,所以给与了额外的延期时间。该次申报延期准许的另一个特点是,SEC表示,一些公司可能“为了遵守联邦证券法的要求而需要额外或不同的协助,因此鼓励这些公司与委员会工作人员联系。委员会的工作人员将根据其特定事实的性质,逐案解决这些以及任何与披露有关的问题。”这种基于事实的分析,如果在当前的情况下适用,可以说明湖北省一带的公司能申请比起海南一带的公司更超长一些的期限宽容及SEC有关方面的协助和支持。

虽然SEC在飓风和其他自然灾害的情况下延长了合规报告义务期限,但在非典时期它并没有这么做。虽然非典确实与目前的病毒流行相似,但有几个原因表明为什么SEC没有提供延期。最重要的一点是,非典发生在2003年,当时来自中国的在美国上市的公司要少得多。2003年,中国在所有市场上的上市公司不到1300家而现在在美国上司公司的数量是那时的三倍多并且这数量还在增加。由于数量的原因,2003年非典对美国市场的影响不如现在病毒影响那么显著。此外,由于当前危机对中国上市企业影响较大,证券市场服务专业人士和受影响企业更有可能向SEC寻求援助。SEC在决策时确实会听取投资者、公司和专业人士的担忧所以积极和SEC沟通是有必要的。

目前我们不能保证SEC是否会给与上市公司任何延期批准,或者是否会给予与其他重大自然灾害相同的额外延期。对于目前来说我们建议上市公司尽最大努力满足正常递交报告义务期限的要求。SEC在听取将受到影响的公司的意见,并在努力寻求公平的解决方案以平衡公司的压力和投资者的需求。受当前病毒突发事件影响的任何公司都应尽早联系其律师和其他服务提供商以开始讨论合规申报义务事宜。除了合规申报义务事宜外,公司还应尽早讨论即将需递交的季报,年报和定期报告中可能需要包括的现发病毒对运营影响的披露。

On January 30,2020,SEC Chairman Jay Clayton directed the SEC to look into the current impact of the coronavirus outbreak on SEC compliance matters.While this announcement falls short of a commitment to provide hardship exemptions to issuers and others affected by the virus,it provides some hope that such relief could be coming.A look at the way the U.S.has handled other natural disasters from an SEC regulatory perspective may be helpful to companies concerned about the impact of the current crisis on their own reporting obligations.

One of the biggest questions public companies have about filing deadlines is whether failing to file within a filing deadline will affect their eligibility to use shelf registration statements or their shareholders’ability to rely on Rule 144.If a company is considered “untimely”in its public reporting obligations,the eligibility to file planned registration statements may be delayed by a year,and sales of stock are not permitted by certain holders of unregistered stock under Rule 144when a company is not current in its public reporting obligations.

As a general matter,the SEC is extremely reluctant to provide extensions or relief to individual companies as to their securities law filing obligations.The SEC generally will not grant filing relief to companies for reasons it considers to be within the control and knowledge of the issuers or other relevant market participants.The SEC’s own guidance says that form eligibility requirements waivers “are granted only under very limited circumstances”.Such requests must be submitted to the SEC’s Office of Chief Counsel for review.We have spoken with the Office of Chief Counsel in connection with the current emergency,and they are currently studying the issue.As of the date of this memo,no policy decisions have been announced about whether coronavirus will be a basis for granting filing relief to individual companies.

But the SEC has proven to be more open to extensions when it comes to natural disasters.In several cases,the SEC has issued rules that provide additional extensions beyond what would otherwise be permitted to the companies.For example,Hurricane Michael formed on October 7,2018,hit Florida as a Category Five hurricane and cleared on October 16,2018.On the day it cleared,the SEC announced regulatory relief for publicly traded companies,investment companies,accountants,transfer agents,municipal advisers and others affected by the hurricane.As Hurricane Michael’s end date coincided with the date of the relief notice,the lack of an announcement should not surprise public companies in China yet.Once the impact of the virus is more well understood,we may see additional guidance from the SEC.For this reason we recommend that companies continue to monitor the situation as it develops.

In the case of Hurricane Michael,the SEC extended shelf eligibility for affected filers and Rule 144eligibility for shareholders by saying that if the company was current and timely in its Exchange Act filings as of the time of the hurricane,it would continue to be considered current and timely if it filed any required report on or before November 23,2018.In other words,the natural disaster did not forgive companies that were late as of the time of the natural disaster.The other effect is that the extension granted the necessary additional time the SEC considered appropriate for companies to remedy filing delays,which was actually longer than the period of the emergency itself.Although the natural disaster in that case lasted for only one week,the extension recognized that filers would need more time,as the full impact of the disaster would become known only after people got back to work.The SEC also stated that some companies might “require additional or different assistance in their efforts to comply with the requirements of the federal securities laws and therefore are encouraged to contact Commission staff.The Commission staff will address these and any disclosure-related issues on a case-by-case basis in light of their fact-specific nature.”This sort of fact-based analysis could,if applied in the current situation,justify a Hubei-based company to request additional assistance beyond what a Hainan-based company might require.

Although the SEC has been willing to grant regulatory relief in the case of hurricanes and other natural disasters,it did not grant relief in the case of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)outbreak.While SARS is similar to the current coronavirus epidemic,there are several reasons that the SEC may not have granted relief in that case.Most significantly,SARS occurred in 2003,when far fewer companies from China were public in the United States.In 2003,China had fewer than 1,300public companies on all markets.That number is now more than three times as high.The increase in the number of Chinese companies public on US markets is even more dramatic.For this reason,the impact of SARS on US markets was not as significant in 2003as the impact of the coronavirus promises to be in 2020.In addition,due to the greater impact of the current crisis on China-based companies,service professionals and affected companies are more likely to reach out to the SEC to seek assistance.Such calls are warranted,and the SEC does listen to the concerns of investors,companies and professionals in making decisions.

Right now,there is no guarantee whether the SEC will grant relief or whether it will grant as much additional relief as it has for other significant natural disasters.For now,all companies should use their best efforts to meet their normal filing deadlines.But the SEC is listening to companies that will be affected and is diligently seeking a fair solution that balances companies’pressures against investors’needs.Any company affected by the current health emergency should reach out to its counsel and other service providers as early as possible to begin to discuss filing matters for planning purposes.In addition to filing issues,companies should discuss the additional disclosures that may be required in upcoming quarterly,annual and periodic reports to reflect the impact the coronavirus is expected to have on operations.

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