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"Big Four" China audit firms settle with SEC over document dispute

[WASHINGTON] The "Big Four" China-based accounting firms reached a historic accord with US regulators on Friday, following a lengthy dispute after the firms refused to turn over audit documents in connection with companies being investigated for fraud.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said that the Chinese units of Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG will each pay US$500,000 and admit that prior to 2012, they did not produce documents the SEC had requested.

The settlement with the SEC notably does not suspend the firms from practicing as accountants for China-based firms listed in US markets. Previously, an SEC judge had ruled they should face a six-month suspension.