Senate backs Bush's call for reforms
The US Senate has voted overwhelmingly in favour of reforms that will put in place tough new penalties for corporate fraud.
The vote, 97-0 in favour, will among other things support the protection of corporate whistleblowers like Sherron Watkins, the lawyer who blew the lid on Enron, as well as raise the penalties for obstruction of justice – the crime for which Andersen was convicted.
At the same time Senate Democrats are trying to push through a series of reforms in a new accounting bill as early as this week, but have come up against resistance from Treasury secretary Paul O’Neill, who said the Bill was well intentioned but contained ‘unhelpful elements’.
The new Bill is the brainchild of Democrat Senator Paul Sarbanes and includes the setting up of a new regulatory body with the power to discipline offenders.
But it is unclear whether the president will support the bill as it exists in its current form. O’Neill said the Senate Bill ‘went too far’.