UPDATE 1-Deloitte hires former U.S. SEC chief accountant

Wed Dec 5, 2012 3:08pm EST

* Deloitte facing regulatory pressure over audits

* Firm says former SEC official taking leadership role

By Dena Aubin

NEW YORK, Dec 5 (Reuters) - The former chief accountant of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is rejoining Deloitte LLP as the Big Four audit firm confronts increased 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.

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.

Several other senior officials are leaving the SEC. Agency Chairman Mary Schapiro said last week she will step down this month, while the SEC on Tuesday said Division of Corporation Finance Director Meredith Cross is also leaving.

On Wednesday, the SEC said General Counsel Mark Cahn and Trading and Markets Division Director Robert Cook are leaving.

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 four 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.

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