Charles D. Niemeier, a board member of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, announced Wednesday that he plans to leave the PCAOB in the near future.

Niemeier was an outspoken critic of a proposal made by the Securities and Exchange Commission, then under chairman Christopher Cox, to abandon U.S. generally accepted accounting principles in favor of international financial reporting standards.

After current SEC chairman Mary Schapiro was sworn in, Niemeier was widely rumored to be in the running to be appointed the commission’s new chief accountant. Such an appointment would have signaled a major break from Cox’s policies — and from the regulator’s IFRS roadmap — by Schapiro. Niemeier had previously served as chief accountant of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement and co-chair of the SEC’s Financial Fraud Task Force.

On August 25, however, Schapiro selected James Kroeker, a two-year SEC veteran who had been filling in as interim chief accountant since the departure of Conrad Hewitt, who served as the commission’s top accountant during most of Cox’s term.

Niemeier did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CFO.com.

The issue of moving the United States to IFRS has received scant public or SEC attention since the financial crisis unfolded, although Schapiro has suggested repeatedly that she will not be bound by the timetable laid out by her predecessor.

In a September 2008 speech before the New York State Society of CPAs, and in later interviews with CFO, Niemeier lambasted the SEC’s plan to move to IFRS, saying it would put the U.S. regulatory system in jeopardy. “All research shows that the U.S. is unique in its regulation,” Niemeier said at the time. “No [country] is as effective…. We have the lowest cost of capital in the world. Do we really want to give that up?”

Niemeier’s official term with the PCAOB ended nearly a year ago, on October 25, 2008. However, board members are allowed to remain in their position until a successor is appointed. The PCAOB’s announcement of Niemeier’s plans did not mention any candidates being vetted to fill his spot.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as one of the founding Board Members of the PCAOB and to play a role in its development,” Niemeier said in a statement. “Although I believe that investors have benefited from the promotion of high quality audits through the Board’s programs, there is much more work to be done.”

 

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