Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

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    Note: This is the original legislation as it was initially enacted. Any subsequent amendments hosted on WS may be listed using  What Links Here.
    107TH UNITED STATES CONGRESS
    2ND SESSION


    An Act
    To protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures made pursuant
    to the securities laws, and for other purposes.


    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.[edit]

    (a) SHORT TITLE—
    This Act may be cited as the ``Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002´´.
    (b) TABLE OF CONTENTS—
    The table of contents for this Act is as follows:
    Sec. 1. Short Title; Table of Contents.
    Sec. 2. Definitions.
    Sec. 3. Commission Rules and Enforcement.
    TITLE I—PUBLIC COMPANY ACCOUNTING OVERSIGHT BOARD
    Sec. 101. Establishment; administrative provisions.
    Sec. 102. Registration with the Board.
    Sec. 103. Auditing, quality control, and independence standards and rules.
    Sec. 104. Inspections of registered public accounting firms.
    Sec. 105. Investigations and disciplinary proceedings.
    Sec. 106. Foreign public accounting firms.
    Sec. 107. Commission oversight of the Board.
    Sec. 108. Accounting standards.
    Sec. 109. Funding.
    TITLE II—AUDITOR INDEPENDENCE
    Sec. 201. Services outside the scope of practice of auditors.
    Sec. 202. Preapproval requirements.
    Sec. 203. Audit partner rotation.
    Sec. 204. Auditor reports to audit committees.
    Sec. 205. Conforming amendments.
    Sec. 206. Conflicts of interest.
    Sec. 207. Study of mandatory rotation of registered public accounting firms.
    Sec. 208. Commission authority.
    Sec. 209. Considerations by appropriate State regulatory authorities.
    TITLE III—CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY
    Sec. 301. Public company audit committees.
    Sec. 302. Corporate responsibility for financial reports.
    Sec. 303. Improper influence on conduct of audits.
    Sec. 304. Forfeiture of certain bonuses and profits.
    Sec. 305. Officer and director bars and penalties.
    Sec. 306. Insider trades during pension fund blackout periods.
    Sec. 307. Rules of professional responsibility for attorneys.
    Sec. 308. Fair funds for investors.
    TITLE IV—ENHANCED FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES
    Sec. 401. Disclosures in periodic reports.
    Sec. 402. Enhanced conflict of interest provisions.
    Sec. 403. Disclosures of transactions involving management and principal stockholders.
    Sec. 404. Management assessment of internal controls.
    Sec. 405. Exemption.
    Sec. 406. Code of ethics for senior financial officers.
    Sec. 407. Disclosure of audit committee financial expert.
    Sec. 408. Enhanced review of periodic disclosures by issuers.
    Sec. 409. Real time issuer disclosures.
    TITLE V—ANALYST CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
    Sec. 501. Treatment of securities analysts by registered securities associations and national securities exchanges.
    TITLE VI—COMMISSION RESOURCES AND AUTHORITY
    Sec. 601. Authorization of appropriations.
    Sec. 602. Appearance and practice before the Commission.
    Sec. 603. Federal court authority to impose penny stock bars.
    Sec. 604. Qualifications of associated persons of brokers and dealers.
    TITLE VII—STUDIES AND REPORTS
    Sec. 701. GAO study and report regarding consolidation of public accounting firms.
    Sec. 702. Commission study and report regarding credit rating agencies.
    Sec. 703. Study and report on violators and violations.
    Sec. 704. Study of enforcement actions.
    Sec. 705. Study of investment banks.
    TITLE VIII—CORPORATE AND CRIMINAL FRAUD ACCOUNTABILITY
    Sec. 801. Short title.
    Sec. 802. Criminal penalties for altering documents.
    Sec. 803. Debts nondischargeable if incurred in violation of securities fraud laws.
    Sec. 804. Statute of limitations for securities fraud.
    Sec. 805. Review of Federal Sentencing Guidelines for obstruction of justice and extensive criminal fraud.
    Sec. 806. Protection for employees of publicly traded companies who provide evidence of fraud.
    Sec. 807. Criminal penalties for defrauding shareholders of publicly traded companies.
    TITLE IX—WHITE-COLLAR CRIME PENALTY ENHANCEMENTS
    Sec. 901. Short title.
    Sec. 902. Attempts and conspiracies to commit criminal fraud offenses.
    Sec. 903. Criminal penalties for mail and wire fraud.
    Sec. 904. Criminal penalties for violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
    Sec. 905. Amendment to sentencing guidelines relating to certain white-collar offenses.
    Sec. 906. Corporate responsibility for financial reports.
    TITLE X—CORPORATE TAX RETURNS
    Sec. 1001. Sense of the Senate regarding the signing of corporate tax returns by chief executive officers.
    TITLE XI—CORPORATE FRAUD AND ACCOUNTABILITY
    Sec. 1101. Short title.
    Sec. 1102. Tampering with a record or otherwise impeding an official proceeding.
    Sec. 1103. Temporary freeze authority for the Securities and Exchange Commission.
    Sec. 1104. Amendment to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
    Sec. 1105. Authority of the Commission to prohibit persons from serving as officers or directors.
    Sec. 1106. Increased criminal penalties under Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
    Sec. 1107. Retaliation against informants.

    SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.[edit]

    (a) IN GENERAL—
    In this Act, the following definitions shall apply:
    (1) APPROPRIATE STATE REGULATORY AUTHORITY—
    The term ``appropriate State regulatory authority´´ means the State agency or other authority responsible for the licensure or other regulation of the practice of accounting in the State or States having jurisdiction over a registered public accounting firm or associated person thereof, with respect to the matter in question.
    (2) AUDIT—
    The term ``audit´´ means an examination of the financial statements of any issuer by an independent public accounting firm in accordance with the rules of the Board or the Commission (or, for the period preceding the adoption of applicable rules of the Board under section 103, in accordance with then-applicable generally accepted auditing and related standards for such purposes), for the purpose of expressing an opinion on such statements.
    (3) AUDIT COMMITTEE—
    The term ``audit committee´´ means—
    (A) a committee (or equivalent body) established by and amongst the board of directors of an issuer for the purpose of overseeing the accounting and financial reporting processes of the issuer and audits of the financial statements of the issuer; and
    (B) if no such committee exists with respect to an issuer, the entire board of directors of the issuer.
    (4) AUDIT REPORT—
    The term ``audit report´´ means a document or other record—
    (A) prepared following an audit performed for purposes of compliance by an issuer with the requirements of the securities laws; and
    (B) in which a public accounting firm either—
    (i) sets forth the opinion of that firm regarding a financial statement, report, or other document; or
    (ii) asserts that no such opinion can be expressed.
    (5) BOARD—
    The term ``Board´´ means the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board established under section 101.
    (6) COMMISSION—
    The term ``Commission´´ means the Securities and Exchange Commission.
    (7) ISSUER—
    The term ``issuer´´ means an issuer (as defined in section 3 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78c)), the securities of which are registered under section 12 of that Act (15 U.S.C. 78l), or that is required to file reports under section 15(d) (15 U.S.C. 78o(d)), or that files or has filed a registration statement that has not yet become effective under the Securities Act of 1933 (15 U.S.C. 77a et seq.), and that it has not withdrawn.
    (8) NON-AUDIT SERVICES—
    The term ``non-audit services´´ means any professional services provided to an issuer by a registered public accounting firm, other than those provided to an issuer in connection with an audit or a review of the financial statements of an issuer.
    (9) PERSON ASSOCIATED WITH A PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM—
    (A) IN GENERAL—
    The terms ``person associated with a public accounting firm´´ (or with a ``registered public accounting firm´´) and ``associated person of a public accounting firm´´ (or of a ``registered public accounting firm´´) mean any individual proprietor, partner, shareholder, principal, accountant, or other professional employee of a public accounting firm, or any other independent contractor or entity that, in connection with the preparation or issuance of any audit report—
    (i) shares in the profits of, or receives compensation in any other form from, that firm; or
    (ii) participates as agent or otherwise on behalf of such accounting firm in any activity of that firm.
    (B) EXEMPTION AUTHORITY—
    The Board may, by rule, exempt persons engaged only in ministerial tasks from the definition in subparagraph (A), to the extent that the Board determines that any such exemption is consistent with the purposes of this Act, the public interest, or the protection of investors.
    (10) PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS—
    The term ``professional standards´´ means—
    (A) accounting principles that are—
    (i) established by the standard setting body described in section 19(b) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended by this Act, or prescribed by the Commission under section 19(a) of that Act (15 U.S.C. 17a(s)) or section 13(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78a(m)); and
    (ii) relevant to audit reports for particular issuers, or dealt with in the quality control system of a particular registered public accounting firm; and
    (B) auditing standards, standards for attestation engagements, quality control policies and procedures, ethical and competency standards, and independence standards (including rules implementing title II) that the Board or the Commission determines—
    (i) relate to the preparation or issuance of audit reports for issuers; and
    (ii) are established or adopted by the Board under section 103(a), or are promulgated as rules of the Commission.
    (11) PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM—
    The term ``public accounting firm´´ means—
    (A) a proprietorship, partnership, incorporated association, corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or other legal entity that is engaged in the practice of public accounting or preparing or issuing audit reports; and
    (B) to the extent so designated by the rules of the Board, any associated person of any entity described in subparagraph (A).
    (12) REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM—
    The term ``registered public accounting firm´´ means a public accounting firm registered with the Board in accordance with this Act.
    (13) RULES OF THE BOARD—
    The term ``rules of the Board´´ means the bylaws and rules of the Board (as submitted to, and approved, modified, or amended by the Commission, in accordance with section 107), and those stated policies, practices, and interpretations of the Board that the Commission, by rule, may deem to be rules of the Board, as necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.
    (14) SECURITY—
    The term ``security´´ has the same meaning as in section 3(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78c(a)).
    (15) SECURITIES LAWS—
    The term ``securities laws´´ means the provisions of law referred to in section 3(a)(47) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78c(a)(47)), as amended by this Act, and includes the rules, regulations, and orders issued by the Commission thereunder.
    (16) STATE—
    The term ``State´´ means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, or any other territory or possession of the United States.
    (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT—
    Section 3(a)(47) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78c(a)(47)) is amended by inserting ``the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002,´´ before ``the Public´´.

    SEC. 3. COMMISSION RULES AND ENFORCEMENT.[edit]

    (a) REGULATORY ACTION—
    The Commission shall promulgate such rules and regulations, as may be necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors, and in furtherance of this Act.
    (b) ENFORCEMENT—
    (1) IN GENERAL—
    A violation by any person of this Act, any rule or regulation of the Commission issued under this Act, or any rule of the Board shall be treated for all purposes in the same manner as a violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78a et seq.) or the rules and regulations issued thereunder, consistent with the provisions of this Act, and any such person shall be subject to the same penalties, and to the same extent, as for a violation of that Act or such rules or regulations.
    (2) INVESTIGATIONS, INJUNCTIONS, AND PROSECUTION OF OFFENSES—
    Section 21 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78u) is amended—
    (A) in subsection (a)(1), by inserting ``the rules of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, of which such person is a registered public accounting firm or a person associated with such a firm,´´ after ``is a participant,´´;
    (B) in subsection (d)(1), by inserting ``the rules of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, of which such person is a registered public accounting firm or a person associated with such a firm,´´ after ``is a participant,´´;
    (C) in subsection (e), by inserting ``the rules of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, of which such person is a registered public accounting firm or a person associated with such a firm,´´ after ``is a participant,´´; and
    (D) in subsection (f), by inserting ``or the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board´´ after ``self-regulatory organization´´ each place that term appears.
    (3) CEASE-AND-DESIST PROCEEDINGS—
    Section 21C(c)(2) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78u-3(c)(2)) is amended by inserting ``registered public accounting firm (as defined in section 2 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002),´´ after ``government securities dealer,´´.
    (4) ENFORCEMENT BY FEDERAL BANKING AGENCIES—
    Section 12(i) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78l(i)) is amended by—
    (A) striking ``sections 12,´´ each place it appears and inserting ``sections 10A(m), 12,´´; and
    (B) striking ``and 16,´´ each place it appears and inserting ``and 16 of this Act, and sections 302, 303, 304, 306, 401(b), 404, 406, and 407 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002,´´.
    (c) EFFECT ON COMMISSION AUTHORITY—
    Nothing in this Act or the rules of the Board shall be construed to impair or limit—
    (1) the authority of the Commission to regulate the accounting profession, accounting firms, or persons associated with such firms for purposes of enforcement of the securities laws;
    (2) the authority of the Commission to set standards for accounting or auditing practices or auditor independence, derived from other provisions of the securities laws or the rules or regulations thereunder, for purposes of the preparation and issuance of any audit report, or otherwise under applicable law; or
    (3) the ability of the Commission to take, on the initiative of the Commission, legal, administrative, or disciplinary action against any registered public accounting firm or any associated person thereof.


    Approved July 30, 2002.


    Legislative History[edit]

    • HOUSE REPORTS:
      • No. 107-414 (Comm. on Financial Services)
      • No. 107-610 (Comm. of Conference)
    • SENATE REPORTS:
      • No. 107-205 accompanying S. 2673 (Comm. on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs)
    • CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 148 (2002):
      • Apr. 24, considered and passed House.
      • July 15, considered and passed Senate, amended, in lieu of S. 2673.
      • July 25, House and Senate agreed to conference report.
    • WEEKLY COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS, Vol. 38 (2002):
      • July 30, Presidential remarks and statement.