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Jonathan Weil

Is the SEC Going Easy on General Electric?

A two-part settlement between accounting firm KPMG and the SEC raise some questions about the work the firm has done for General Electric.

The Securities and Exchange Commission unveiled a curious settlement today with KPMG LLP over violations of auditor-independence rules. And it looks like the agency went out of its way to protect the Big Four accounting firm and its longtime audit client, General Electric Co.

The settlement papers came in two parts. The first was an administrative order, under which the firm will pay $8.2 million in fines and disgorgement. The SEC said KPMG provided bookkeeping and other prohibited services to three audit clients. The SEC said some KPMG partners also owned stock in one of the clients, which is a no-no.