SEC Modernizes Auditor Independence Rules

On October 16, 2020, the SEC adopted amendments to codify and modernize certain aspects of the auditor independence framework.  The rule proposal was published in December 2019 (see HERE).

The current audit independence rules were created in 2000 and amended in 2003 in response to the financial crisis facilitated by the downfall of Enron, WorldCom and auditing giant Arthur Andersen, and despite evolving circumstances have remained unchanged since that time.  The regulatory structure lays out governing principles and describes certain specific financial, employment, business, and non-audit service relationships that would cause an auditor not to be independent.  Like most SEC rules, the auditor independence rules require an examination of all relevant facts and circumstances.  Under Rule 2-01(b), an auditor is not independent if that auditor, in light of all facts and circumstances, could not reasonably be capable of exercising objective and impartial judgment on all issues encompassed within the audit duties.  Rule 2-01(c) provides a non-exclusive list