Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002/Title VII

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==TITLE VII—STUDIES AND REPORTS==

SEC. 701. GAO STUDY AND REPORT REGARDING CONSOLIDATION OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRMS.[edit]

(a) STUDY REQUIRED—
The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study—
(1) to identify—
(A) the factors that have led to the consolidation of public accounting firms since 1989 and the consequent reduction in the number of firms capable of providing audit services to large national and multi-national business organizations that are subject to the securities laws;
(B) the present and future impact of the condition described in subparagraph (A) on capital formation and securities markets, both domestic and international; and
(C) solutions to any problems identified under subparagraph (B), including ways to increase competition and the number of firms capable of providing audit services to large national and multinational business organizations that are subject to the securities laws;
(2) of the problems, if any, faced by business organizations that have resulted from limited competition among public accounting firms, including—
(A) higher costs;
(B) lower quality of services;
(C) impairment of auditor independence; or
(D) lack of choice; and
(3) whether and to what extent Federal or State regulations impede competition among public accounting firms.
(b) CONSULTATION—
In planning and conducting the study under this section, the Comptroller General shall consult with—
(1) the Commission;
(2) the regulatory agencies that perform functions similar to the Commission within the other member countries of the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations;
(3) the Department of Justice; and
(4) any other public or private sector organization that the Comptroller General considers appropriate.
(c) REPORT REQUIRED—
Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall submit a report on the results of the study required by this section to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives.

SEC. 702. COMMISSION STUDY AND REPORT REGARDING CREDIT RATING AGENCIES.[edit]

(a) STUDY REQUIRED—
(1) IN GENERAL—
The Commission shall conduct a study of the role and function of credit rating agencies in the operation of the securities market.
(2) AREAS OF CONSIDERATION—
The study required by this subsection shall examine—
(A) the role of credit rating agencies in the evaluation of issuers of securities;
(B) the importance of that role to investors and the functioning of the securities markets;
(C) any impediments to the accurate appraisal by credit rating agencies of the financial resources and risks of issuers of securities;
(D) any barriers to entry into the business of acting as a credit rating agency, and any measures needed to remove such barriers;
(E) any measures which may be required to improve the dissemination of information concerning such resources and risks when credit rating agencies announce credit ratings; and
(F) any conflicts of interest in the operation of credit rating agencies and measures to prevent such conflicts or ameliorate the consequences of such conflicts.
(b) REPORT REQUIRED—
The Commission shall submit a report on the study required by subsection (a) to the President, the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

SEC. 703. STUDY AND REPORT ON VIOLATORS AND VIOLATIONS.[edit]

(a) STUDY—
The Commission shall conduct a study to determine, based upon information for the period from January 1, 1998, to December 31, 2001—
(1) the number of securities professionals, defined as public accountants, public accounting firms, investment bankers, investment advisers, brokers, dealers, attorneys, and other securities professionals practicing before the Commission—
(A) who have been found to have aided and abetted a violation of the Federal securities laws, including rules or regulations promulgated thereunder (collectively referred to in this section as ``Federal securities laws´´), but who have not been sanctioned, disciplined, or otherwise penalized as a primary violator in any administrative action or civil proceeding, including in any settlement of such an action or proceeding (referred to in this section as ``aiders and abettors´´); and
(B) who have been found to have been primary violators of the Federal securities laws;
(2) a description of the Federal securities laws violations committed by aiders and abettors and by primary violators, including—
(A) the specific provision of the Federal securities laws violated;
(B) the specific sanctions and penalties imposed upon such aiders and abettors and primary violators, including the amount of any monetary penalties assessed upon and collected from such persons;
(C) the occurrence of multiple violations by the same person or persons, either as an aider or abettor or as a primary violator; and
(D) whether, as to each such violator, disciplinary sanctions have been imposed, including any censure, suspension, temporary bar, or permanent bar to practice before the Commission; and
(3) the amount of disgorgement, restitution, or any other fines or payments that the Commission has assessed upon and collected from, aiders and abettors and from primary violators.
(b) REPORT—
A report based upon the study conducted pursuant to subsection (a) shall be submitted to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate, and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act.

SEC. 704. STUDY OF ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS.[edit]

(a) STUDY REQUIRED—
The Commission shall review and analyze all enforcement actions by the Commission involving violations of reporting requirements imposed under the securities laws, and restatements of financial statements, over the 5-year period preceding the date of enactment of this Act, to identify areas of reporting that are most susceptible to fraud, inappropriate manipulation, or inappropriate earnings management, such as revenue recognition and the accounting treatment of off-balance sheet special purpose entities.
(b) REPORT REQUIRED—
The Commission shall report its findings to the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate, not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, and shall use such findings to revise its rules and regulations, as necessary. The report shall include a discussion of regulatory or legislative steps that are recommended or that may be necessary to address concerns identified in the study.

SEC. 705. STUDY OF INVESTMENT BANKS.[edit]

(a) GAO STUDY—
The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study on whether investment banks and financial advisers assisted public companies in manipulating their earnings and obfuscating their true financial condition. The study should address the rule of investment banks and financial advisers—
(1) in the collapse of the Enron Corporation, including with respect to the design and implementation of derivatives transactions, transactions involving special purpose vehicles, and other financial arrangements that may have had the effect of altering the company's reported financial statements in ways that obscured the true financial picture of the company;
(2) in the failure of Global Crossing, including with respect to transactions involving swaps of fiberoptic cable capacity, in the designing transactions that may have had the effect of altering the company's reported financial statements in ways that obscured the true financial picture of the company; and
(3) generally, in creating and marketing transactions which may have been designed solely to enable companies to manipulate revenue streams, obtain loans, or move liabilities off balance sheets without altering the economic and business risks faced by the companies or any other mechanism to obscure a company's financial picture.
(b) REPORT—
The Comptroller General shall report to Congress not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act on the results of the study required by this section. The report shall include a discussion of regulatory or legislative steps that are recommended or that may be necessary to address concerns identified in the study.