While corporate scandals in the U.S. have received a great deal of attention, Europe has its own versions of Enron and WorldCom. Parmalat, the Italian agribusiness giant, and Ahold, the Dutch retailer, are two recent examples. The scandals and the resulting loss of investor confidence have increased global efforts to create a regulatory framework that improves transparency in financial reporting for both publicly traded companies and government agencies.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act has received the most attention, but is widely viewed in much of the world as an overreaction that has imposed too harsh a burden, especially on smaller and entrepreneurial enterprises, which create the majority of economic growth.

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