| WASHINGTON, April 28
WASHINGTON, April 28 A task force formed last
year to police for accounting fraud has launched a series of new
investigations, the top U.S. securities regulator will tell
lawmakers on Tuesday.
"A number of new investigations and inquiries are under way,
including matters focused on both traditional and emerging
financial fraud issues," said Securities and Exchange Commission
Chair Mary Jo White in prepared congressional testimony before
the U.S. House Financial Services Committee.
White did not elaborate on what the SEC has been finding, or
what defines "emerging financial fraud."
But throughout her tenure so far, the former federal
prosecutor has been working to refocus the SEC Enforcement
Division's back onto accounting issues - an area that has
featured less prominently on the SEC's docket of cases over the
past few years as regulators turned their attention to
insider-trading by hedge funds and financial crisis-era frauds.
Part of that renewed focus has centered on an increasing use
of specialized technology that can scan public filings for
potential accounting abuses.
In addition, last July the SEC unveiled its new financial
reporting and audit task force, which is headed by David
Woodcock, an attorney and accountant who heads the SEC's Fort
Worth, Texas, office.
The task force has been involved in scrutinizing financial
restatements and revisions, among other areas.
Separately, the SEC has also recently ramped up its focus
against gatekeepers such as auditors and even public company
audit committee members.
In March, the SEC took the unusual step of filing civil
charges against the former audit committee chairman of the
animal feed company AgFeed Industries Inc for his alleged role
in failing to properly investigate an elaborate accounting fraud
orchestrated in China.
The ex-audit committee chairman has denied the charges, and
plans to litigate the case in court.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Ken Wills)