U.S. SEC ousts head of accounting watchdog, puts rest of board on notice

FILE PHOTO: The seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seen at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 12, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday said it has voted to remove the head of the accounting oversight board that sets standards for audits of public companies and left the rest of the members on notice.

The SEC voted to remove William Duhnke III from his role as chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, effective Friday, the agency said in a statement. The other four members will stay on, but the SEC is soliciting resumes for those roles.

The move to remove the head of a watchdog critics have described as toothless marks a major warning shot by the new SEC chair, who took the helm at the top markets regulator in mid-April.

“The PCAOB has an opportunity to live up to Congress’s vision in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act,” SEC chair Gary Gensler said in the statement, referring to the 2002 law that established the board.

It also comes amid pressure from some Democratic lawmakers, who have said the board has been falling down on its job to oversee audit firms meant to keep publicly traded companies in check.

Duane DesParte, who joined the board in 2018, will serve as acting chair, the SEC said.

(Reporting by Chris Prentice and Katanga Johnson; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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