SEC Commissioner discusses reconciliations

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14 Oct 2006

In remarks before the Institute of European Affairs in Dublin recently, US SEC Commissioner Paul S. Atkins spoke about the adoption of IFRSs in Europe, the reconciliation to US GAAP for SEC registrants using IFRSs, and the possibility of the European Commission requiring a reconciliation to IFRSs for companies that trade in Europe and that prepare US GAAP financial statements.

Here is an excerpt from Commissioner Atkins's comments:

The coherent consistent application of IFRS is an essential prerequisite to the elimination of the reconciliation requirement in the United States. It will take us some time to assess how IFRS is being implemented and enforced, but I am optimistic that we will complete our assessment, well within the 2009 goal for reconciliation, and be able to determine that the reconciliation requirement is unnecessary. Our new Chief Accountant, Conrad Hewitt, is committed to working to achieve this objective as quickly as possible.

I am keenly aware that shareholders ultimately bear the costs of reconciliation – like many of our regulations – and these costs are considerable. For this reason, I am very interested in what appears to be growing European sentiment against requiring reconciliation for U.S. issuers that currently use GAAP in their EU filings. Requiring U.S. companies to reconcile their U.S. GAAP financial statements to IFRS would undermine our efforts towards mutual recognition by senselessly diverting attention and energy from our shared, transatlantic objective of making sure that IFRS succeeds. U.S. GAAP is already an established standard that has proven itself to investors over time. The need for reconciliation disappears when IFRS shows itself to be, like GAAP, a consistently applied, high quality set of accounting standards. It is in everyone's best interest to achieve the elimination of the reconciliation requirement as quickly as possible.

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