"The Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act" was signed into law by President Bush on July 30, 2002. The law is now known as The Sarbane-Oxley Act (SOA). The SOA has eleven titles within the act and numerous sections, pertaining to ethics, accounting, financial reporting, responsibilities of officers, whistleblower protection, and increased criminal penalties built upon prior securities laws. SOA is the most comprehensive securities legislation written since the 1940s. In the early part of the twentieth century companies did not have the sophistication and abilities of the modern company in regard to information technology, number of accountants, advisors and analysts. This legislation is a big step toward keeping U.S. law up to date with modern business practices. The Sarbane-Oxley Act was necessary to protect the U.S. economy and restore investor confidence after the many years of dishonest business practices by ENRON, WORLDCOM, TYCO and other companies.
The practitioners of shady accounting and greed brought about a collapse in stock prices, shook investor confidence and hurt the credibility of all publicly traded companies. A mass "bail-out" by large stockholders ensued; however the average small investor held on, hoping that the stock would stabilize and believing the reassurances of companies, that claimed they were financially well-off when they were actually worth less than what they owed. In the end, investors and lower-rung employees of these companies were devastated financially. The underhandedness and greed of these corporate officers had the potential to hurl the U.S. economy out of control. The small investors, who are registered voters demanded action.
This paper will review the sections of The Sarbane-Oxley Act, highlight their broad implications and discuss compliance. Compliance will cost all publicly traded companies a great deal of money. ?Deloitte's Point of View? will be used to illustrate that compliance, when embraced properly and approached positively can bring rewards for companies in the long term.
The sections that follow are a simplification of the Sarbane-Oxley legislation. There
are many niches that will require attorneys, accountants and advisors. Keep in mind all prior SEC (securities exchange commission) legislation such as (The Securities Act of 1933, Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, Trust Indenture Act of 1939, Investment Company Act 1940, and The Investment Advisors Act of 1940) are all still in effect. All securities legislation can be found at: www.sec.gov/about/laws.shtml.
Sections 302, 304, 306, 402, 403 and 406 are designed to improve the ?Tone at the Top? of companies. The sections are primarily geared towards the CFOs, CEOs and other company officers. An example is under section 302; the CEO and CFO need to personally certify financial documents pertaining to annual and quarterly reports....