New York (Feb. 4, 2003) - Rep. Michael Oxley, co-author of the landmark Sarbanes-Oxley accounting reform act, said he's pleased with the way his vision is being carried out and is confident that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and the SEC will dutifully carry out the law's mandates.
Speaking at Pace University's Lubin Leaders Forum, "Financial Integrity & Investor Confidence: Finding the Road Back," the Ohio Republican recalled how in the wake of Enron and WorldCom, President Bush basically ordered Congress to bring an accounting reform and corporate governance bill to him to sign before the August 2002 recess.
"We did it in 72 hours - a new land speed record," Oxley joked. He added that he doesn't believe that the law will prove problematic because it was hammered together in such a short amount of time. He also applauded the SEC for putting "meat on the bones of the legislation," by voting on specific actions to make sure accounting firms and corporations comply with the letter and spirit of the law.
Oxley said he imagined that that the accounting profession had some influence with the SEC in determining that tax shelter and other tax advice remained permissible consulting work for audit firms, saying that a company's internal audit team could still forbid such arrangements. "The SEC vote (on this) followed the dictates of Sarbanes-Oxley and I'm perfectly comfortable with their decision," he said.
When asked whether he had any fears about the viability of the PCAOB, which is currently without a chairman following the fated appointment of Judge William Webster, he was emphatic. "Nothing keeps me up at night," he said. "What we did was tantamount to federalizing the accounting profession because self-regulation didn't work and I think they're up to the task."
He did add, however, that he believes there's still a large role for the accounting profession to play in formulating and setting standards. "They should give their opinions and have a right to make their views known," he said. "We need the expertise of the accounting profession."
-- Tracey Miller-Segarra
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