Responsibilities of Independent Directors Increases in Response to Sarbanes Oxley
Serving as an independent director carries serious obligations and responsibilities.
Following the passage of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), the role of independent directors has become that of securities monitor. They must be informed of developments within the company, ensure good processes for accurate disclosures and make reasonable efforts to assure that disclosures are adequate. Independent directors, like inside directors, should be fully aware of the company’s press releases, public statements and communications with security holders and sufficiently engaged and active to questions and correct inadequate disclosures.
Disclosure and Transparency
The basic premise of federal securities laws is disclosure and transparency. The theory behind this regulatory structure is that if a Company is forced to disclose information about particular transactions, plans or programs, the company and its officers and directors will take greater care in making business decisions. If a director knows or should know that his or her company’s statements concerning particular issues are inadequate or incomplete,
The Federalism of State Corporate Law
Historically the regulation of corporate law has been firmly within the power and authority of the states. However, over the past few decades the federal government has become increasingly active in matters of corporate governance. Typically this occurs in waves as a response to periods of scandal in specific business sectors or in the financial markets. Traditionally, when the federal government intervenes in these situations, they enact regulation either directly or indirectly by imposing upon state corporate regulations.
Specifically, the predominant method of federal regulation of corporate governance is through the enactment of mandatory terms that either reverse or preempt state laws on the same point. The most recently prominent example is the passing of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX).
Sarbanes Oxley (SOX)
SOX regulates corporate governance in five matters: (i) SOX prevents corporations from engaging the same accounting firm to provide both audit and specified non-audit services; (ii) SOX requires that audit committees of listed companies be
Analysis of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 for Non-Accelerated Filers
On October 13, 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officially extended the date for non-accelerated filers to comply with Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) until their fiscal years ending on or after June 15, 2010. Since the adoption of the rules implementing Section 404(b) on June 5, 2003, the time period for compliance by non-accelerated filers has been extended several times. It is widely believed that this extension, for six additional months, will be the last. Companies other than non-accelerated filers are already subject to Section 404 compliance. Although “non-accelerated” filers are not specifically defined, such filers include small business entities.
Among other things, Section 404(b) of SOX requires companies to include in their annual reports filed with the SEC, an accompanying auditor’s attestation report, on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting. In other words, reporting companies must employ their auditor to audit and attest upon their financial internal control process,