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S. 945: Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act

The text of the bill below is as of Mar 28, 2019 (Introduced).


II

116th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 945

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 28, 2019

(for himself and Mr. Van Hollen) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

A BILL

To amend the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to require certain issuers to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission information regarding foreign jurisdictions that prevent the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board from performing inspections under that Act, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act.

2.

Disclosure requirement

Section 104 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (15 U.S.C. 7214) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(i)

Disclosure regarding foreign jurisdictions that prevent inspections

(1)

Definitions

In this subsection—

(A)

the term covered issuer means an issuer that is required to file reports under section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78m; 78o(d)); and

(B)

the term non-inspection year means, with respect to a covered issuer, a year—

(i)

during which the Commission identifies the covered issuer under paragraph (2)(A) with respect to every report described in subparagraph (A) filed by the covered issuer during that year; and

(ii)

that begins after the date of the enactment of this subsection.

(2)

Disclosure to Commission

The Commission shall—

(A)

identify each covered issuer that, with respect to the preparation of the audit report on the financial statement of the covered issuer that is included in a report described in paragraph (1)(A) filed by the covered issuer, retains a registered public accounting firm that has a branch or office that—

(i)

is located in a foreign jurisdiction; and

(ii)

the Board is unable to inspect under this section; and

(B)

require each covered issuer identified under subparagraph (A) to, in accordance with the rules issued by the Commission under paragraph (4), submit to the Commission documentation that establishes that the covered issuer is not owned or controlled by a governmental entity in the foreign jurisdiction described in subparagraph (A)(i).

(3)

Trading prohibition after 3 years of non-inspections

(A)

In general

If the Commission determines that a covered issuer has 3 consecutive non-inspection years, the Commission shall prohibit the securities of the covered issuer from being traded on a national securities exchange.

(B)

Removal of initial prohibition

If, after the Commission imposes a prohibition on a covered issuer under subparagraph (A), the covered issuer certifies to the Commission that the covered issuer has retained a registered public accounting firm that the Board has inspected under this section to the satisfaction of the Commission, the Commission shall end that prohibition.

(C)

Recurrence of non-inspection years

If, after the Commission ends a prohibition under subparagraph (B) or (D) with respect to a covered issuer, the Commission determines that the covered issuer has a non-inspection year, the Commission shall prohibit the securities of the covered issuer from being traded on a national securities exchange.

(D)

Removal of subsequent prohibition

If, after the end of the 5-year period beginning on the date on which the Commission imposes a prohibition on a covered issuer under subparagraph (C), the covered issuer certifies to the Commission that the covered issuer will retain a registered public accounting firm that the Board is able to inspect under this section, the Commission shall end that prohibition.

(4)

Rules

Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Commission shall issue rules that establish the manner and form in which a covered issuer shall make a disclosure and a submission required under clauses (i) and (ii) of paragraph (2)(B), respectively.

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