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Consideration of IFRS Statement on SEC Agenda

Melissa Klein Aguilar | February 19, 2010

The topic of International Financial Reporting Standards for domestic companies is back on the Securities and Exchange Commission's agenda.

At an Open Meeting on Feb. 24, the Commission will consider "whether to publish a statement regarding its continued support for a single-set of high-quality globally accepted accounting standards and its ongoing consideration of incorporating International Financial Reporting Standards into the financial reporting system for U.S. issuers," according to a Sunshine Act Meeting Notice posted Feb. 19.

At the same meeting, the SEC will also consider whether to adopt amendments to Rules 201 and 200(g) of Regulation SHO relating to short-sale restrictions.

The SEC published its proposed roadmap on the adoption of IFRS for U.S. companies for comment in November 2008, as the economic crisis was deepening. Under that proposal, a small group of public companies would be able to start filing using IFRS voluntarily as early as 2010, and others would be required to adopt the standards on a phased-in scheduled, starting with fiscal years ending on or after Dec. 15, 2014, if certain milestones were met. A final decision on whether to move ahead with mandatory adoption would be made in 2011.

While the 200-plus comment letters were generally supportive of the pursuit of a single set of global accounting standards, they were sharply divided on how best to get there.

The proposed roadmap was put on the back burner last winter as the SEC dealt with the financial crisis, the Madoff fraud debacle, and a change in its leadership when the new administration took over last year.

After remaining mum on the issue for months, SEC officials in public remarks last fall said that converging U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and IFRS would be a high priority for the agency. The U.S. accounting standards setters, the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board, which sets IFRS, are working on several major joints projects to bring their standards closer.

WalterAs previously reported, at a conference in December, SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter said the SEC wouldn't move forward with any plan until it was satisfied that concerns about IASB's susceptibility to political pressure and independence were resolved.

Back in 2007, the SEC abolished a long-standing requirement that overseas companies listed on U.S. exchanges reconcile their financial statements to U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles if they file using IFRS as promulgated by IASB.