New bill calls for Sarbanes-Oxley style oaths

Link: Companies bill gets tough on accountants

The bill requires company accounts to include a statement that all information ‘necessary for the auditors to form their opinion’ has been divulged by the board.

The new regulation is comparable to section 302 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which covers corporate responsibility for financial reports.

The American Act requires CEOs and CFOs to prepare statements to accompany audits that certify the ‘appropriateness’ of the financial statements and disclosures, which must ‘fairly present, in all material respects, the operations and financial condition of the issuer’.

The DTI denied the companies bill was taking a leaf out of Sarbanes-Oxley, however.

DTI minister Jacqui Smith said: ‘What we share are the objectives of the American system which are to restore and maintain investor confidence. We have taken a different approach to the US, which I’d argue is measured – and is an approach that fits our situation.’

But Eric Anstee, chief executive of the ICAEW, said the similarity to Sarbanes-Oxley was not coincidental. ‘I think what they’ve done is looked at how the Americans have reacted, they have looked at this particular clause in the Sarbanes-Oxley act (302) and where the EU is going on these issues.’

The ICAEW would welcome the measure, he added.

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