The Broken Record on Sarbox Reform

Lora Bentley

The Securities and Exchange Commission just adopted new rules that will make it easier for foreign companies to deregister once they have delisted from a U.S. exchange. As we mentioned yesterday, the rules will be effective in July, and at least one company isn't hesitating to take advantage.


But as a recent Canadian Business column points out, those changes are not the only ones the SEC is pursuing at the moment. In response to complaints from various players in the industry, the regulator has also eased up on smaller businesses and is taking comment on how to streamline Sarbanes-Oxley implementation to reduce compliance costs for all U.S. public companies.


Playing not a small part in all of it is SEC Chief Accountant Conrad Hewitt, who is using his varied background as a regulator, a managing partner at a Big Four firm and a corporate board member to do his job. A Washington Post profile of Hewitt says the SEC post includes everything from managing more than 60 accountants, to reviewing questions submitted by businesses and their auditors, to "passing judgment" on corporate accounting that serves as the basis for the regulator's cases against corporate officers and/or the companies they serve.


Bartlett attributes Abraham Lincoln with saying "...[Y]ou cannot fool all of the people all of the time." In his brief seven months on the job, we would guess that Hewitt could also say it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time.


Despite the fact that the SEC is making progress in lessening the Sarbox compliance load, there are some who say tweaking Sarbanes-Oxley is not enough. Instead, they argue, the entire act should be repealed.

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