Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

© Reuters. The Ernst & Young logo is seen at a branch in Zurich, Switzerland, on October 24, 2018. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann / Files

(Reuters) – Accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP, a partner and two former employees agreed to pay more than $ 10 million to settle charges on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that violated U.S. independence rules. ‘auditor, the agency said Monday.

Ernst & Young, partner James Herring and former partners James Young and Curt Fochtmann interfered in selecting a public company auditor, threatening their ability to remain objective and impartial as auditors, the SEC said.

The agency filed related charges against William Stiehl, formerly the company’s chief accounting officer whom the SEC did not name, for his role in the misconduct.

Ernst & Young’s attorneys and individuals, who did not admit or deny the SEC’s findings, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sealed air (NYSE 🙂 Corp., where Stiehl had been chief financial officer, said in 2019 he quit his job. A company spokesman did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

“Auditor independence is not just an obstacle to overcome, it is the fundamental foundation that supports the integrity, transparency and reliability of financial information,” SEC official Charles Cain said in a statement.

The audit firm agreed to pay $ 10 million to settle the civil charges. Herring, Young and Fochtmann agreed to pay $ 50,000, $ 25,000 and $ 15,000, respectively, and temporary suspensions. Stiehl accepted a $ 51,000 fine.

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