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SEC's Casey: Accounting convergence must continue

* SEC review of IFRS roadmap is ongoing

* Casey supports single set of high quality global rules

* Warns against overpoliticization of accounting

NEW YORK, Nov 17 (Reuters) - U.S. and international accounting rulemakers must continue to get support for development of a single set of high quality global accounting standards, a top U.S. securities regulator said on Tuesday.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Kathleen Casey, one of five commissioners who makes decisions on federal securities rules, said that while the agency is still deciding on whether to eventually require U.S. companies to join the more than 100 other countries using International Financial Reporting Standards, investors still need a single set of rules for global companies.

“In our global market ... investment opportunities are not limited to U.S. companies,” Casey said in comments to a Financial Executives International conference in New York.

“The commission and the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) would be remiss and fail the needs of investors if we do not continue to support the development of a single set of high quality global accounting standards.”

The U.S. FASB and London-based International Accounting Standards Board, which writes IFRS, have been working to converge about a dozen accounting rules on topics like leases and financial instrument accounting by mid-2011.

Casey said it was “crucial” that the U.S. continue to play a leading role in accounting standards, but said a review of the proposal to move U.S. firms to IFRS was still ongoing.

Casey also warned against the overpoliticization of accounting rules, or attempts to pressure accounting rulemakers to write rules that would favor a specific goal sought by a particular industry.

“The goal of standard setting must be to develop high quality and unbiased accounting standards that promote transparency, and that are, in turn, viewed as credible by our markets,” Casey said. “If, however, the standard setting process is subject to undue commercial or political pressure market participants may lose confidence.”

Last November, in one of the SEC’s last major projects under former Chairman Christopher Cox, the SEC staff released a proposed roadmap that would have U.S. companies filing financial results under IFRS, rather than U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), by 2014, with the option for some companies to adopt the rules earlier.

The adoption of international accounting standards by U.S. companies would move the world toward one set of standards and might make it simpler for investors to compare companies operating in different regions. Proponents also say this would enable companies to raise capital more easily in whatever markets appeal to them.

When the SEC’s new chairman, Mary Schapiro, took over early this year, she said she would review the proposals. SEC officials have promised to provide more clarity before 2010.

Reporting by Emily Chasan; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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