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Peregrine fires second auditor

Less than two months after hiring KPMG to replace Arthur Andersen, software vendor Peregrine Systems is firing the auditor, citing past dealings with KPMG that may violate US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requirements for auditor independence.

Peregrine dropped Andersen in early April, attributing the change to "current uncertainties" about Andersen in the wake of the Enron debacle.

Not long after, Peregrine was enmeshed in an accounting tangle of its own, where revenue of up to $100m may have been improperly booked during the financial years 2001 and 2002. Peregrine's chief executive officer and chief financial officer resigned, spurring investigations by both the SEC and Peregrine's audit committee.

KMPG had begun the internal investigation, which will now be conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Peregrine announced.

Last week, the company extended the time frame during which it believed accounting improprieties occurred, announcing plans to restate its financial results for 2000, 2001 and the first three-quarters of its 2002 financial year.

The contested revenue relates to transactions recorded as revenue from Peregrine's indirect channels that may have been written off in later quarters, according to the company.

The conflict with KPMG stems from past business dealings between Peregrine, KPMG and KPMG Consulting, a now-independent spin-off from KPMG that went public in 2001.

"KPMG informed Peregrine that approximately $35m of the questionable [$100m] transactions were with KPMG and KPMG Consulting," Peregrine said in a statement. Peregrine officials declined to elaborate on how the $35m was generated. The company offered no comment beyond its press release.

Peregrine said that it believed its dealings with KPMG and KPMG Consulting compromise SEC rules regarding auditor independence.

A search for new independent auditors is under way.

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