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Related to Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Enron
Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002
Legislation in the United States, passed in 2002, intended to increase transparency in accounting practices. It was adopted in the wake of a series of scandals involving aggressive accounting on the part of a number of major accounting firms, notably Arthur Andersen. Among other provisions, it created the Public Accounting Oversight Board to regulate accounting firms that provide auditing services. It established and enhanced provisions for auditor independence and financial disclosures to limit potential conflicts of interest. It introduced a requirement that the chief executive officer must sign a corporation's tax return and enhanced punishments for white collar crime. Proponents argue that the Act has increased transparency in public accounting, while critics contend that it has driven business outside the United States.
The congressional legislation that regulates certain corporate financial activities and improves the accuracy of financial statements. Among other things, the act prohibits personal company loans to directors and officers, requires certification of financial statements by a firm's chief executive officer and chief financial officer, protects employee whistle-blowers, increases criminal penalties for securities law violations, requires disclosure of off-balance-sheet financing, and calls for improvement in the accuracy of pro forma financial statements. The act was passed in 2002 in response to widely publicized corporate accounting scandals.