Tuesday, November 11, 2008

IASCF Trustees Send A Message To President Bush, G20

Earlier today, the Trustees of the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation (IASCF) –overseer of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) - issued a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush, asking him to share the letter with other participants attending the G20 special meeting taking place in Washington, DC. later this week to address economic issues. (See IASCF letter to the G20)

The IASCF letter reviews IASB actions under way to address the credit crisis, including a series of roundtables being convened by the IASB and FASB in London on Nov. 14, Norwalk CT on Nov. 25 and Tokyo on Dec. 3 to identify financial reporting issues highlighted by the global financial crisis.

Additionally, the IASCF letter states: “efforts to improve financial reporting should be led and completed expeditiously by the IASB in order to ensure a globally coordinated approach,” and notes: “The IASB has already taken a number of significant steps to improve accounting guidance based on the recommendations particularly of the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) but also of other stakeholders and commentators.”

In light of these actions, the IASCF Trustees advise the G20: “any steps taken outside the well-established and supported standard-setting process to amend fair value accounting would further undermine already scarce confidence in financial markets.” This language sounds somewhat akin to that in a letter sent by FAF Chairman Robert Denham (the FAF board of trustees oversees the FASB) to SEC Chairman Christopher Cox last month.

The subject of accounting (including mark-to-market or fair value accounting) and its role in the credit crisis, and the need to conform global accounting standards to create a level playing field, is one topic likely to come up at the special meeting of the G20 this week, according to material prepared by Jenilee Guebert, Senior Researcher, G20 Research Group of the University of Toronto Munk Centre for International Studies at Trinity College. See G20 Economic Summit: Plans for the Special Meeting on November 15, 2008. See also Nations Strive for a Single Voice on Financial Crisis, But Rival Agendas Make it Tough to Act in Unison, by Bob Davis in the Nov. 10 Wall Street Journal.

Will SEC IFRS Roadmap Be Announced at G20 Meeting?
Could issuance of SEC’s proposed IFRS Roadmap which the SEC voted to release for public comment on Aug. 27 coincide with the G20 special meeting taking place in Washington DC on November 15? The likelihood may have increased in light of the imminent announcement of the formation of the IASCF Monitoring Board, which is expected to be announced “during the next few weeks,” according to the IASCF letter to the G20.

The IASCF proposed formation of a Monitoring Board earlier this year, to include representatives from public authorities. The SEC, IOSCO, EU, and Japan FSA jointly announced in June they support the formation of such a Monitoring Board which would, among other things: participate in the selection and approval of IASCF Trustees, hear regular reports from the IASCF Trustees on their oversight of the IASB, and “ensure the independence of the IASB, while reinforcing the public interest oversight provided by the IASCF Trustees.”

The independence of the IASB was reportedly questioned during a hearing of the Treasury Committee of Britain's House of Commons, as reported in this article by Marie Leone today in CFO.com.

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