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Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Essay Example

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Essay

Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) establishes new law or changes existing law in many ways. It dramatically changes the responsibilities of individuals involved in companies whose stock is publicly traded. It increases the responsibilities of the CEO, the CFO, directors, inside and outside legal counsel to the firm, and the firm’s outside auditor. Notably, a firm’s CEO and CFO must each “certify the accuracy” of everyquarter or yearlyfiling with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Adding to the stakes for the certifying CEO and CFO, the Act imposes criminal penalties of up to 10 years for a “knowing” violation and up to 20 years for a “willful violation” – see §906 of the Act(Lander, 2003, p. 8).

The auditors must contract with the audit committee of the board, not with management of the company. And they may no longer to do other jobs for the firm, such as book-keeping, and financial record-keeping– see §201 of the Act (Lander, 2003, p. 103). Each member of the committee must be different. This requirement of independence means that (a) no employees of the company or its subsidiaries may be a member; and (b) members may not get any “consulting, advisory, or other compensatory fees” from the company, other than fees belonged to the board or to the committee (so that an audit committee member may not, say, serve as a consultant or lawyer to the company) (Sullivan, 2006).

Corporate whistle-blowers – employees who report, say, the company’s financial crime to government authorities – get exceptional protection. It is now a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison for anyone to knowingly retaliate against a person for supplying accurate information about a federal crime to a law-enforcement officer – see § 806 of the Act (Lander, 2003, p. 97). So firing a whistle-blower in retaliation is a felony.

References

Lander, Guy P. (2003). What is Sarbanes-Oxley. McGraw-Hill Professional.

Sullivan, Kristin. (2006). Corporate Accounting Scandals, Connecticut General Assembly. Retrieved from http://www.cga.ct.gov/2006/rpt/2006-R-0122.htm

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