What is the purpose of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and which businesses are impacted by it?

What business events was this Act in response to by Congress? Do you think this will help or hurt the business environment?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
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    First of all - who is impacted by SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act)? Any company that is publicly held - a company that has shares to buy on any American Stock Exchange. If you are a sole proprietor, a partnership, an LLC, you don't need to legally comply - but many of the ideas behind the Act are just good business practices. Any foreign-based company that sells on the any American Stock Exchange also has to follow the SOX act, though they had a little more time to get their testing in place.

    After the Enron, World Com, Arthur Andersen messes, etc., the government stepped in to protect the investors - and especially protect the employee's pension funds. They didn't want to see a group like the out-of-work Enron employees that didn't even have a pension left.

    So - in their wisdom, they came up with the SOX Act. What is required by this act is a series of self-tests that make sure that all the 'I's are dotted and the "T's crossed in a legal way that follows the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures) rules.

    This set of tests has to be submitted to the SEC (Security and Exchange Commission), approved, and religiously followed. Companies are subject to audit of their SOX testing and compliance. I am not sure what the fines and penalties are that are assessed - and the company I work for set out to not find this out. We have numerous tests, we self-audit on a monthly basis, and so far we have kept the SEC happy. If you are a publicly-traded company, it would be totally stupid to disregard this ACT.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It only affects publicly traded companies. Contrary to what I thought I knew, it looks like it only applies to public accounting/auditing firms as well (I thought it applied to all accounting/auditing firms).

    In the short term, it caused affected businesses to spend extra money to get in compliance. In the long term, I doubt it will have much negative effect. If SOx does what it is supposed to, I definitely think it is a good thing (we'll have to wait and see if it really does what it's intended to).

    The intro from Wikipedia does a far better job explaining the history and purpose than I could:

    The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (Pub.L. 107-204, 116 Stat. 745, enacted 2002-07-30), also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 and commonly called SOx or Sarbox; is a United States federal law enacted on July 30, 2002 in response to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals including those affecting Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, Peregrine Systems and WorldCom. These scandals, which cost investors billions of dollars when the share prices of the affected companies collapsed, shook public confidence in the nation’s securities markets. Named after sponsors Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Representative Michael G. Oxley (R-OH), the Act was approved by the House by a vote of 423-3 and by the Senate 99-0. President George W. Bush signed it into law, stating it included "the most far-reaching reforms of American business practices since the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt."[1]

    The legislation establishes new or enhanced standards for all U.S. public company boards, management, and public accounting firms. It does not apply to privately held companies. The Act contains 11 titles, or sections, ranging from additional Corporate Board responsibilities to criminal penalties, and requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to implement rulings on requirements to comply with the new law. Debate continues over the perceived benefits and costs of SOX. Supporters contend that the legislation was necessary and has played a useful role in restoring public confidence in the nation’s capital markets by, among other things, strengthening corporate accounting controls.

    The Act establishes a new quasi-public agency, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, which is charged with overseeing, regulating, inspecting, and disciplining accounting firms in their roles as auditors of public companies. The Act also covers issues such as auditor independence, corporate governance, internal control assessment, and enhanced financial disclosure.

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