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White Says IFRS Is Still a High Priority

June 23, 2014

IFRS remains a high priority for the SEC, but what the agency does, and when it does it, still has to be worked out. The agency’s chief said some action on the issue is coming soon.

IFRS remains a high priority for the SEC, and agency’s chief said some action on the issue is coming soon.

“It’s a high priority for me, and it is, to get the commission in a position to speak further on this issue in the very near term,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White following a June 20, 2014, speech to the Economic Club of New York. “I can’t tell you what that statement will be at this point in time. But I think it’s a very high priority for the commission to make a statement and provide a clearer explanation as to exactly where the commission is.”

The SEC last had an official statement on IFRS in February 2010 when it published Release No. 33-9109, Commission Statement in Support of Convergence and Global Accounting Standards. But the statement was not conclusive — it simply described the issues regulators wanted to address before they wrote rules for U.S. adoption of the IASB’s standards.

In July 2012, the agency concluded its work based upon that statement with the publication of Final Staff Report:Work Plan for the Consideration of Incorporating International Financial Reporting Standards into the Financial Reporting System for U.S. Issuers. The report also lacked a definitive recommendation and, for the most part, its content was limited to an outline of the issues regulators would have to consider before they issued a rule.

The SEC’s definitive actions on IFRS included the 2007 rule in Release No. 33-8879, Acceptance From Foreign Private Issuers of Financial Statements Prepared in Accordance With International Financial Reporting Standards Without Reconciliation to U.S. GAAP. The rule permitted foreign companies to submit regulatory filings with financial statements following IFRS, provided the companies said they were using the standards as they had been issued by the IASB without modifying them.

“The remaining big issue is whether, and if so, how and to what extent IFRS might be extended to domestic issuers,” White said.

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