Washington (July 12, 2002) -- Outrage over the unfolding accounting scandals shifted the mood on Capitol Hill toward action this week, as the Senate voted Wednesday in favor of an amendment to the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act that would go beyond the measures proposed by President Bush earlier in the week.

The amendment proposed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D- Vt., which cleared the Senate in a 97-0 vote, would create a new crime for any "scheme or artifice" to defraud shareholders in publicly traded companies.

In addition to creating a ten-year felony for any scheme to defraud shareholders, it creates two new anti-shredding laws that close loopholes in the current obstruction of justice offenses and require that corporate audit papers be kept for at least five years, the statute of limitations for many federal crimes.

The amendment also lengthens statute of limitations in fraud cases, giving victims five years to bring their fraud cases or two years from date of discovery of the fraud; prevents securities law violators from using bankruptcy to shield debts based on fraud judgments and settlements from their victims; and creates new protections for corporate whistleblowers.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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