CORRECTED-Deloitte hires former U.S. SEC chief accountant

Wed Dec 5, 2012 3:02pm EST

(Corrects in final paragraph to "Deloitte and four other" firms, not five)

* Deloitte facing regulatory pressure over audits

* Firm says former SEC official taking leadership role

NEW YORK, Dec 5 (Reuters) - The former chief accountant of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is rejoining Deloitte LLP in a bid by the Big Four audit firm to improve quality amid more regulatory scrutiny.

James Kroeker, who left the SEC in July, will join Deloitte in January in a "leadership role" as deputy managing partner, Deloitte said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Deloitte, under pressure from regulators in the United States and abroad, may also hire a former head of Britain's financial watchdog, a source told Reuters on Tuesday.

Deloitte is in the early stages of talks to hire Hector Sants, former chief of Britain's Financial Services Authority, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. Deloitte and the FSA declined comment. For details see.

Kroeker was a partner at Deloitte before joining the SEC in 2007. He will report to Deloitte's U.S. Chief Executive Joe Echevarria, the audit firm said.

The appointment must still be approved by Deloitte's board of directors.

Deloitte has faced a string of public problems over its audits and consulting work over the past year.

In the latest flare-up, it was accused last month of failing to warn of accounting problems at Autonomy, a UK software firm bought by U.S. technology giant Hewlett-Packard Co.

Deloitte's UK arm, Autonomy's auditor, has said it had no knowledge of accounting improprieties.

HP last month took an $8.8 billion write-down on Autonomy, blaming most of it on improper accounting. Autonomy has insisted its accounting was correct. HP has said it turned the matter over to U.S. and UK authorities.

Deloitte is also facing mounting pressure from U.S. regulators over access to audit documents.

The SEC on Monday charged the Chinese arms of Deloitte and five other top accounting firms with securities violations for refusing to turn over documents relating to companies suspected of wrongdoing. The audit firms say they cannot turn over the documents because of Chinese state secrecy laws. (Reporting By Dena Aubin,; additional reporting by Huw Jones in London. Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Andrea Ricci)