At their meeting in Beijing today, the Trustees of the IASC Foundation announced their unanimous support for the approach that the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) laid out last Friday to accelerate its response to the credit crisis. Under this approach, the IASB will seek appropriate language to eliminate any differences in how International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) and US generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) address the issue of reclassification of financial instruments. The Trustees support the IASB’s intention to complete this work by the end of next week. The Trustees, as the IASB’s oversight body, have agreed that the IASB can suspend its normal due process. This will permit any IASB decision on reclassification made next week to take effect for the third quarter. The Trustees support the IASB’s plans and its announced intention to work speedily with the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to ensure that their guidance is equivalent and therefore has the same effect across borders. The objective would be to create a level playing field for those companies applying IFRSs and those using US GAAP. Such a position would be in line with and supportive of the statements of European leaders, and finance ministers through the ECOFIN Council, to ensure that ‘European financial institutions are not disadvantaged vis-à-vis their international competitors in terms of accounting rules and of their interpretation.’ The Trustees are concerned that any moves to go now beyond the positions taken by European leaders and the finance ministers in the ECOFIN Council in this respect would result in the creation of a new unlevel playing field. In reaching this common view, the Trustees emphasised that they do not and would not take positions on the specific technical content of IFRSs; the Trustees therefore reaffirmed their commitment to preserving the independence of the IASB’s standard-setting process. With more than 100 countries now using IFRSs, the Trustees highlighted the fact that any weakening of the IASB’s independence would be likely to reduce transparency, potentially lead to a weakening of standards worldwide, and would ultimately undermine investor confidence at a fragile time for the world’s markets.
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