Lawyers push for Sarbanes-Oxley exemptions

Lawyers push for Sarbanes-Oxley exemptions

An international body of lawyers is intensifying its efforts to gain exemptions from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act on corporate governance, before the Securities & Exchange Commission finalises its rules.

Link: In depth:Sarbanes-Oxley

In a meeting with the SEC yesterday, lawyers from Europe, Asia, Latin American and Canada said some of the rules set out in the act would clash with their own domestic laws.

The meeting also included representatives from the Big Four and government officials from the Department of Trade & Industry – one of the issues being discussed is the curbing of non-audit services that audit firms provide to their clients, a topic which has dominated accounting regulation talk since Arthur Levitt headed up the SEC in the late 1990s.

Since the introduction of Sarbanes-Oxley in the summer, in response to the corporate failures of Enron and WorldCom in particular, foreign companies that are listed in the US have expressed concern over its extra-territorial features.

The SEC, under Harvey Pitt, had promised to accommodate as many international concerns as possible in the rules, while his successor, William Donaldson, is also believed to aware of foreign concerns.

Two months ago, German sports car manufacturer Porsche withdrew plans to list in New York, because of fears over Sarbanes-Oxley, and the additional requirements it imposed.

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