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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Outgoing official calls for patience on Sarbanes-Oxley

The outgoing head of the congressionally created panel that enforces Sarbanes-Oxley audit requirements yesterday defended the landmark law as a success in curbing corporate fraud, but he signaled that possibly significant regulatory tinkering is on the horizon.

William McDonough has led the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) since its inception in 2002 to help publicly traded companies fall in line with strict new financial-reporting mandates imposed by Congress to heal shaken investor confidence. McDonough’s recent resignation, however, leaves an opening for Sarbanes-Oxley’s vocal corporate critics, who would like the law’s governance standards to be relaxed.

Addressing a group of trade-association officials and lobbyists, McDonough attributed Sarbanes-Oxley’s effectiveness to a higher “fear quotient” among corporate executives of the harsh fallout from accounting fraud. He acknowledged that Section 404, the provision of Sarbanes-Oxley instructing companies to conduct often-complex internal audits, had created a chorus of potentially justified complaints from businesses.

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