Bush Signs Sweeping Corporate Accounting Law

By Agence France-Presse All to aware of the political fallout of recent accounting scandals plaguing the U.S., President George W. Bush on July 30 signed into law sweeping corporate accountability reform, vowing a crackdown on executives who defraud investors. In a White House ceremony, as the bill's co-sponsors, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Maryland, and Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, looked on, Bush said the "tough" new law will allow the government to "act against those who have shaken confidence in our markets." Absent, however, were representatives from the top echelons of corporate America. "This law says to every dishonest corporate leader: You'll be exposed and punished," Bush said in prepared remarks. The new corporate auditing accountability law establishes an independent board to set standards and discipline auditors of public companies, to be overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Corporate executives will be required to accept responsibility for the accuracy and veracity of their companies' financial reports and will be made to disclose, in real time, anything that could impact a company's financial health. The law also will demand that corporations contribute to accounts that will return funds to investors who have lost money in the markets as a result of corporate wrongdoing. Stiff criminal penalties -- up to 20 years in prison -- for corporate executives convicted of wrongdoing, were also included. Omitted from the bill, despite lobbying by Democrats, was the listing of corporate stock options among company expenditures. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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