San Diego (July 18, 2002) -- The majority of chief executives say their colleagues are to blame for the current accounting scandals, and they expect the problem to get worse, according to a survey of chief executives.

More than two-thirds of chief executives hold corporate CEOs directly responsible for recent accounting scandals, as opposed to CFOs, the Securities Exchange Commission, or accounting firms, according to a survey of nearly 800 chief executives by TEC International. While 82 percent think the recent wave of scandals is the work of a few highly visible CEOs and doesn't represent the behavior of the vast majority of CEOs, 75 percent of CEOs expect to see many more examples of corporate misconduct this year.

While half of respondents said the current accounting and securities regulations are adequate, but need to be followed and enforced, 82 percent agreed with implementing harsher penalties, jail time and tougher prosecution for those involved in financial abuses, according to the Special Edition TEC Index "CEO Views on the CEO Crisis."

For example, 84 percent think corporate officers who benefit from false accounting should forfeit all money gained and be barred for life from serving as an executive or board member. Seventeen percent of CEOs agreed that firing SEC chief Harvey Pitt would be effective in preventing future corporate abuses.

Sixty-one percent of those surveyed support strengthening boards of directors with more involved, independent and knowledgeable directors, while 52 percent of CEOs support requiring corporate officers to sign a legally binding standard code of ethics. More than 90 percent of respondents believe celebrity CEOs should do jail time if found guilty of serious securities or accounting violations, just like any other CEO.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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