WASHINGTON Accounting firm Ernst & Young will pay $9.3 million to settle charges that two of its auditors got "too close to clients on a personal level" and broke rules aimed at ensuring reviews were objective and impartial, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Monday.
SEC investigations found that the senior partner on the audit team for a New York-based public company "maintained an improperly close friendship" with its chief financial officer, the agency said in a statement. A different partner on an audit team for another public company was "romantically involved" with its chief accounting officer, the SEC said.
The people involved have been "separated" from Ernst & Young, a company spokeswoman said in a statement.
"The individuals at the center of these matters violated multiple EY policies, hid their conduct and behaved in a way that was antithetical to EY’s Global Code of Conduct, culture, values, policies, and training," said Ernst & Young spokeswoman Amy Call Well. "The decisions they made betrayed the trust placed in them," she said in a statement.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli)