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Chinese units of 5 big U.S. audit firms charged

Federal regulators have charged the Chinese affiliates of five of the biggest U.S. accounting firms with impeding the government’s investigation of Chinese companies by refusing to turn over documents.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday it has started proceedings against the Chinese affiliates of all so-called Big Four accounting firms, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers, and a fifth major firm, BDO.

Hundreds of Chinese companies trade on U.S. stock exchanges. The SEC has been investigating many of them for possible accounting fraud. The agency says the accounting firms, which audit Chinese companies, have refused to cooperate in investigations of nine companies and to provide documents.

From wire dispatches and staff reports