Can the Sarbanes Oxley Act remedy deficiencies in financial regulations Essay

In the recent past the accounting profession has undergone a extremist transmutation stomping from the Worldcom and Enron Scandals which led to the prostration of the largest accounting house. The USA formulated the Sarbanes Oxley Act to pre-empt farther jobs. Review the fiscal ordinance issues posed by the Worldcom and Enron dirts and discourse the extent to which the Sarbanes Oxley Act remedies any lacks in the fiscal ordinances and will avoid or non avoid hereafter jobs.


Recent corporate prostrations of Enron, HIH, World Com, One Tel and others on the international sphere has focused attending on company failures and the function that strong corporate administration demands to play to forestall them. The corporate prostrations demonstrate a demand for corporate administration reform. This has seen increasing production of voluntary or compulsory corporate administration codifications and policy paperss such as the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and Corporate Law Economic Reform Program Number 9 ( CLERP 9 ) .

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Concerns about the impact of endeavors on society are a planetary 1. The outlooks of consumers, employees, investors, concern spouses and local communities as to the function of concerns in society are increasing. Guidelines, rules and codifications of behavior are being developed for corporate behavior. Government ‘s, Non Government Organizations ( NGO ‘s ) and local communities are demanding increased transparence and answerability, non merely in the endeavors ‘ day-to-day concern operations but besides with respect to how those operations affect society ( United Nations, 2004 ) .

Furthermore indispensable that the regulative model for corporate administration is strengthened so that organisations are able to show transparence, duty and answerability beyond the country of fiscal public presentation. With the corporate prostrations corporate administration is going a cardinal policy issue now.

“ Corporate administration has become one of the most normally used footings in the current local and international concern linguistic communication. It is a term now universally invoked wherever concern and finance are discussed. This raises the inquiry, “ is corporate administration a critical constituent of successful concern or is it merely another craze that will melt off over clip ” ( Solomon, 2004 ) .

Good corporate administration contributes to growing and fiscal stableness of entities by beef uping market assurance, fiscal market unity and economic efficiency. Bad administration patterns revealed by the recent corporate dirts have focused the heads of authoritiess, regulators, companies, investors and the general populace on failings in corporate administration systems and the demand to turn to this issue. This position is consistent with Kirkpatrick ( 2009 ) , who concludes that “ fiscal crisis can be to an of import extent attributed to failures and failings in corporate administration agreements which did non function their intent to safeguard against inordinate hazard taking ” . Accounting criterions and regulative demands have besides proved insufficient in some countries.

The meltdown of Enron and WorldCom has sent incredulity throughout the international concern community. The Accounting profession came under the limelight and saw the ruin of Arthur Andersen and placed uncertainness on the effectivity of bing accounting, scrutinizing and corporate administration patterns.

This paper highlights hearer ‘s misstatement sensing and coverage procedure. What appears from a re-evaluating of these prostration instances is that the failure point in the misstatement sensing and coverage procedure differs among these instances, meaning the demand for assorted ways to better the procedure

The passage of Sarbanes Oxley Act in 2002 covering corporate administration and revelation coverage was because of the grounds underpinning Enron ‘s prostration. ( CPA108, 2009 )

“ The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed mostly as a consequence of the Enron failure, efforts to better the audit procedure for public companies in the US. The relationship of the act ‘s commissariats to the misstatement sensing and coverage procedure, and their possible efficaciousness in forestalling instances similar to the recent frauds are addressed ‘ ( Cullinan. C, 2002 )


Enron was a Houston-based energy company which was created in 1985 after the amalgamation of two US based gas grapevine companies. Over the period of 16 old ages the company was transformed from a relatively little concern, involved in gas grapevines, and oil and gas geographic expedition, to the universe ‘s largest energy trading company ( The Economist, 28 November 2002 ) .

The deregulating of the American energy market saw Enron making a market of natural gas leting energy suppliers to go more competitory and allowed manufacturers and purchasers to merchandise and fudge gas supplies. New merchandisers came in to the market and competition increased. The free market trading saw the monetary value of gas going unstable. The fluctuations of monetary values saw Enron taking the chance to do more money.

Enron operated as a agent that conducted concern of electricity, gas and other trade goods such as packaged high-speed Internet capacity. The company produced a immense, over the counter market for contract priced against diverse energy merchandises. “ Enron entered into a contract with the Sellerss and signed a contract with the purchaser, gaining runing net incomes on the border between the merchandising and purchasing monetary values. Therefore, Enron acted much like a bank would in covering with it clients in the foreign exchange or money markets, except that the company tended to run in markets affecting more alien trade goods such as conditions derived functions ” ( CPA108, 2009 ) .

In the eyes of investors Enron was seen as a company with secured repute for transcending net incomes chance. “ The stock monetary value public presentation of Enron indicated that investors were pleased with the ever-increasing operating net incomes that the company was describing. Its portion monetary value rose from $ 20 at the start of 1998 to a extremum of $ 90 in September 2000 ” ( CPA108, 2009 ) .

During this clip it is possible that Enron embark on to use complicated accounting method to maintain its portion monetary value surging, increased investing aligned with its ain assets and stock and retained the idea of a extremely booming company.

On the other manus, the company ‘s portion monetary value commence to worsen from late 2000 onwards as the market became progressively disturbed about the quality of Enron ‘s reported earning ‘s the impact of volatile energy markets on Enron ‘s operating profitableness, and sudden surrenders of cardinal staff ( CPA108, 2009 ) .

“ As Enron ‘s portion monetary value began to fall, its capacity to conceal its losingss began to decrease. In October 2001, Enron disclosed non-recurring charges of US $ 1.1billion, a decrease in stockholders ‘ equity of US $ 1.2billion and a US $ 700 million loss, thereby uncovering to the markets the significance of these shadowy SPE ( Particular Purpose Entities ) companies. Six hebdomads subsequently, Enron which had US $ 62 billion in assets, filed for bankruptcy ” ( CPA107, 2009 ) .

“ Enron ‘s bankruptcy was singular non merely for the sheer magnitude and extent of the catastrophe, but besides because it hit such a theoretical account corporation, one which had adopted all of the direction norms in trend at the clip ; the creative activity of stockholder value, lasting re-engineering, e-business, derivations trading, and so on ” ( Aglietta, Reberioux, 2005 ) .

Some of the Accounting methods usage by Enron to misconstrue the fiscal statements was complex combination of many complicated scheme.

One of the schemes that were used by Enron was creative activity of Particular Purpose Entities ( SPE ‘s ) . This SPE ‘s was used by Enron to hide debts, so that company would look more profitable in the eyes of stockholders.

“ Enron ‘s inordinate growing was due less to its pick of investings than to its policy of covering up the inevitable losingss built-in in this type of activity. Its policy basically consisted of reassigning the most debased assets, a priori unmerchantable, to companies which appeared at first glimpse to be independent, but which were in fact controlled by Enron ” ( Aglietta, Reberioux, 2005 ) .

Most of SPE ‘s that was used by Enron was non consolidated in the Enron ‘s group ‘s histories as a consequence misleads the stockholders of the full range of the Enron group ‘s liabilities and associated fiscal hazard profile. Consequently using of off balance sheet accounting led Enron to underestimate its debts and dispose of troublesome assets that were falling in value. Like many other companies Enron make the most of SPE ‘s to entree capital or hedge hazard.

One of the illustrations stated by Aglietta, Reberioux ( 2005 ) is that of an assets valued at $ 33 million was sold to an SPE for $ 100 million, in this dealing Enron made a net income of $ 67 million. It was a authoritative illustration of Enron ‘s patterns, doing a fabricated capital addition by go throughing off depreciated assets onto affiliates at randomly fixed monetary values.

Harmonizing to Thomas ( 2002 ) Enron used SPE ‘s such as limited partnership with outside parties, a company is permitted to increase purchase and Return on Assets ( ROA ) without holding to describe this in its financials. The entity provides difficult assets and associated debt to an SPE in exchange of involvement. The SPE so borrows big amounts of money from fiscal establishment to obtain assets or execute other concern without the debt or assets appearance on the company ‘s fiscal statement. The company can sell leveraged assets to SPE and do a net income.

Another scheme that Enron make usage of marked to market rule that is when value of assets increased Enron increased its assets value in its balance sheet but on the other manus when value of this assets decreases Enron did non set this plus to current/ lower values. Enron took the chance to appreciate all of its assets, the direction used marked-to-market in order to increase the values.

As stated by Thomas ( 2002 ) Enron incorporated ‘mark-to-market accounting ” for the energy trading concern in the mid 1990s and used it on an unprecedented graduated table for its trading minutess. Under mark-to-market whenever companies have outstanding energy-related or other derivative contract oh their balance sheets at the terminal of a peculiar one-fourth, they must set them to fair market value, booking unfulfilled additions or losingss to the income statement of that period.

Enron ‘s weak internal control was another lending factor that led to its prostration. Textbooks and Media studies besides states that Arthur Anderson being the external hearers was besides involved in internal audit plants and this is in breach of Auditing policy.

“ Enron besides turned over to Arthur Anderson some duty for its internal clerking, “ film overing a cardinal division of duty that companies employ to guarantee the honestness and completeness of their fiscal figures ” ( Schwartz, Stephens 2006 ) .

“ Enron ‘s board ‘waived the company ‘s struggle of involvement policy to let its CFO to put in the corporation ‘s particular purpose entities, so failed to follow up to guarantee the mandated compensating controls were being adhered to. This shows merely how weak Enron ‘s internal control system was. Enron ‘s directors failed to place the major hazard confronting their operating countries and develop control patterns and processs for employees to follow ” ( Locatelli, 2002 ) .

Another issue was of struggle of involvement between Enron and Arthur Anderson whereby both of them did non keep arm ‘s length dealing. Arthur Anderson was seen as a client pleasance and this was one of the grounds for his involuntariness to stand up to Enron direction sing accounting issues. Anderson was involved with Enron ‘s external audits, internal audits and provided other consultancy services. From this other services provided to Enron ‘s, Arthur Anderson was acquiring more gross than merely making external audits.

“ Arthur Levitt, one of the profession ‘s prima critics, anf former caput of the SEC claims that ‘ struggle of involvement necessarily occurs when a company pays an accounting house consulting fees that far outweigh the audit fee ” ( Boyd, 2004 ) .


WorldCom was 2nd biggest telecommunication company in USA. The corporation was founded in 1995 after it was renamed from Long Distance Discount Service to WorldCom.

“ The rise of WorldCom was non through honest steps and on July 21, 2002, the company filed the biggest bankruptcy in the history of The United provinces at that clip. The bankruptcy was a consequence of one the greatest corporate fraud dirts of all time where the company ‘s assets were inflated by the implausible amount of $ 11 billion ” ( Dedering,, 2009 )

“ Even though WorldCom ‘s bankruptcy surpassed Enron ‘s in graduated table, the latter remains symbolic of how afloat capitalist economy had become at the terminal of the 20th century. It would be mistaken to see nil but the manus of corrupt company executives at work in these dramatic bankruptcy ” ( Aglietta, Reberioux, 2005 ) .

WorldCom was on the brink to make a amalgamation with Sprint which would hold seen portion monetary value increased. If the amalgamation had been successful this would hold made WorldCom the taking communicating company in the market. The amalgamation was unsuccessful and later saw the communicating industry suffered through falling market and stock monetary value therefore led to downfall of WorldCom.

WorldCom provided loans to its staff which led Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC ) to demand information from WorldCom about its accounting processs and about the loan dealing that transpired with its staff. The SEC probe exposed that WorldCom had lent money to its CEO to cover him loans that he took to buy its ain portions in WorldCom. This led SEC to filed charges against WorldCom for securities fraud.

“ It alleged that WorldCom ‘s top direction “ disguised its true operating public presentation ‘ and “ misled investors about its reported net incomes ” ( Sirdhar, 2002 ) .

An Internal Audit had found that company ‘s financials did non follow accounting rules and therefore led to exaggeration of its income and net income. The company hide its outgo, by using simple fast ones in it equilibrate sheet to increase gross and net incomes. WorldCom was sorting disbursals associate with investing as capital assets. WorldCom was able to hide twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours disbursal and showed them as net income ( Sirdhar, 2002 ) .

The investors and stockholders thought WorldCom was making good but alternatively the earning of the company was worsening. The accounting methods used by WorldCom to portray that it was profitable was through reclassifying disbursals as investings and therefore undervaluing its outgo, demoing false profitableness to investors and to maintain up the portion monetary value in the market.

“ Fiscal experts have pointed out that WorldCom ‘s accounting patterns, peculiarly those associating to the gage the public presentation of the company. Revisions in fiscal statements were therefore the norm in WorldCom. While profitableness was overstated, investors were misled by the opaque nature of its regular operating public presentation ” ( Sirdhar, 2002 ) .

Arthur Andersen

Arthur Andersen ‘s dismissal lack in the Enron instance largely involved an unwillingness to stand up to Enron direction sing accounting issues.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act ( SOX )

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act ( SOX ) passed mostly as a consequence of the corporate and accounting failure, efforts to better the audit procedure for public companies in the US and to reconstruct investors assurance. The relationship of the act ‘s commissariats to the misstatement sensing and coverage procedure, and their possible effectivity in avoiding instances similar to the recent frauds are addressed.

“ The Sarbanes-Oxley Act tries to turn to the failing in four different countries:

Specify the suited relationship between independent hearers and the company being audited.

Stipulating appropriate corporate administration patterns and inappropriate corporate activities.

Decide the right ordinance with regard to corporate fraud and answerability.

Establishing demands that companies implement and document internal control systems to assist guarantee that unity of fiscal information being reported to the populace. ( Schwartz, Stephens 2006 ) .

The SOX established the Public Company Accounting Board ( PCAOB ) , which composed of minority of audit professionals and under direct supervising of SEC.

To rectify the increased figure of struggle of involvement, from now on audit houses are forbidden from supplying assessment, consulting, and creative activity and operating of fiscal informations processing system to the houses they are scrutinizing ( Aglietta, Reberioux, 2005 ) .

The major subscriber to the major corporate dirts was due to miss of hearer independency. Section 201 of SOX addresses this affair which limits possible hearers conflict through step aimed to develop auditor independency. This aims to curtail hearers of public houses from supplying non-audit consulting services to their clients. Tax services could be provided to the audit clients upon seeking blessing from the audit commission in progress.

“ SOX continued its major reforms by concentrating on another cardinal factor impacting hearer independency with the acceptance of Section 203. This mandates the rotary motion of audit spouses in charge of audit clients. Lead audit spouses and audit spouses who are responsible for reappraisal of the audit must be rotated off after five old ages ” (, 2007 ) .

SOX besides address the issue of corporate administration by necessitating specific actions that need to be taken by the company and certain activities that the company are banned from making.

Section 301 requires that company have an audit commission and that each member of the audit committed be an independent member of the board of managers. SOX does non necessitate that member of audit commission to be a fiscal expert but companies must unwrap whether at least one member of audit committed is a fiscal expert ( Schwartz, Stephens 2006 ) .

Having a fiscal expert may assist convey direction and hearer on the same degree of apprehension every bit good as create transparence to unwrap all the fiscal issue for all the stakeholders of the company.

“ Other corporate administration commissariats of SOX require that the CEO and the CFO attest the fiscal statements ; necessitate that a corporate codification of moralss be in topographic point for top direction ; expand required revelations about minutess affecting the company and rule shareholders, managers, or officer ; and forbid the purchase and sale of stock by officers, managers, and other insiders during the blackout periods ” ( Schwartz, Stephens 2006 ) .

SOX besides deal with corporate fraud and answerability and white collar offenses and besides imposes condemnable punishments.

“ In it function of independently scrutinizing a company ‘s fiscal consequences ; a public accounting house is expected to work without struggle of involvement or influence from any interested parties within the company. Such influence would compromise the independency of the hearer ‘s study. To protect the outside hearer ‘s independency, SOX makes it improper for any other officer or manager, or other moving under their way, to fraudulently act upon, coerce, manipulate, or mislead and independent hearer engaged in scrutinizing the company ‘s financials ( Colley J. L., 2005 ) .

SOX through whistle blower policy besides provide protection for employees who provide grounds of fraud. SOX require company to set into pattern whistle blower policy for employees to hold an chance for confidential and to stay anon. .

“ SOX subdivision 404, which covers direction appraisal of internal control, has likely received the most negative promotion, due to the extra conformity cost it implies ( Schwartz, Stephens 2006 ) .

“ SOX contains a regulation that requires companies to unwrap to the public “ on a rapid and current footing ” and in apparent English ” , of import alterations in the fiscal status or operations of the company with the intent of protecting investors ” ( Colley J. L., 2005 ) .

Since execution of SOX the one-year cost of being a public company has doubled. The bulk fraction of the increased cost was related to insurance for managers and officers. As a consequence at that place have been studies that companies that have de-listed their securities or have delayed their offering of portion to public. Companies listed on SEC can maintain off from regulations imposed by SOX by traveling private ( Schwartz, Stephens 2006 ) .

Benefits of SOX

Even though the cost of conformity with SOX has increased and resulted to go public company expensive, this may discourage smaller companies from traveling public and may perchance hold some consequence on companies decide to retreat from the public markets. The enterprisers need to cognize the SOX commissariats to which private houses are capable, every bit good as the benefits of voluntary conformity with SOX ( Schwartz, Stephens 2006 ) .

SOX ordinances have impact on public or private companies SOX has commissariats that trades with condemnable liability for devastations papers and retaliation against whistle blowers, punishments for white-collar offense and securities fraud.

Investors and stockholders may see SOX conformities as a manner forward for first-class pattern as this may better corporate administration issue for all companies and this may reconstruct assurance in the companies. It would be hard for companies to sell portions and acquiring loans if they are non SOX compliant.

“ Presently, a private company can selectively use some SOX proviso, such as those covering its relationship with hearers, corporate administration, and fiscal coverage. Equally long as conformity is voluntary, non-publicly traded companies can burden the cost versus the benefits of SOX conformity, and choice and take which SOX commissariats to implement ” ( Schwartz, Stephens 2006 ) .

With conformities with SOX the companies with provide enhanced fiscal revelations which will supply more information to stockholders.

The CEO and CFO will hold to attest the fiscal coverage of the companies and this will guarantee personal answerability. This will take to confidence in corporate duty and fiscal coverage.

SOX has improved transparence and decreased hazard on corporate deceitful pattern by increasing punishments which will discourage companies personal from affecting in dishonorable Acts of the Apostless and misleading public about its fiscal statements.

Execution of SOX has seen companies executing hazard appraisals and certification of internal control and uninterrupted testing of controls to see that they are runing swimmingly as expected. “ One of the most of import best patterns to come out of SOX certification is the public presentation of a hazard appraisal. The intent of a hazard appraisal is to place the major hazards confronting organisation and to rank those hazards in footings of likeliness of happening and impact to the organisation ” ( Jeffrey, Lourens, 2008 ) .

Disclosure of Conflict of involvement

Will Sarbanes-Oxley Act prevent future corporate prostrations

The debut of Sarbanes Oxley Act has revolutionise the behavior of making concern as there is enhanced public appraisal of all the corporate administration activities and the fiscal consequence of the public companies. This has saw more focus been put on corporate moralss and administration and improved apprehension of internal control issues.

SOX efforts to cover with the issue of hearer independency and struggle of involvement of hearers by keeping external hearers to supply other consultancy service to their clients which are publically listed companies.

SOX require companies to develop a codification of behavior that should be followed by direction. One of the local publically listed companies in Fiji has developed codification of moralss for its managers.

“ The requiring of a codification of moralss is designed to beef up investor ‘s assurance in fiscal coverage and nil else. A codification of moralss would non hold prevented Enron from making anything they did, because of the coherence between Enron ‘s CEO and CFO. A codification of moralss will non guarantee that the CFO or accountant is traveling to act ethically. A codification of moralss can work efficaciously merely to the extent that direction desires ” ( Eichar, 2002 )

SOX would assist in forestalling the off balance sheet entities used by Enron to pull strings net incomes and to conceal it debt as it will necessitate more revelation of off balance entities. This revelation will supply more information to company ‘s stakeholders.

“ SOX farther necessitate the external hearer ‘s enfranchisement of direction ‘s reappraisal. Will this step be effectual in forestalling fiscal statement frauds in the hereafter? As a forensic comptroller and fraud tester, I am non convinced it will hold small or no consequence ” ( Hurley, 2005 ) .

Harmonizing to Jamal.K ( 2006 ) so far there are no instances highlighted by external hearers as major fraud. He states that fiscal statement auditing, as presently practiced, is instead uneffective at observing fraud. Standardization of audit regulations and hazard based scrutinizing moreover creates scrutinizing uneffective in observing fraud.

The issue of grade -to-market was non address by SOX, which allowed Enron to gauge the hereafter market value of its contract and this led to Enron to blow up its net incomes and portion monetary value. This issue was seen in US in recent fiscal crisis sing plus bubble in which there was over rating of plus monetary value that mortgage by Bankss.

The internal control demand of Sarbanes Oxley Act was non effectual in forestalling the recent fiscal crisis that started from USA. This was the issue of subprime mortgage. If there was good internal control construction at banking and mortgage companies, it would hold required that information provided by loan appliers to be verified and ascertained that applier could refund the loan sums. Furthermore, a proper internal control system would hold do certain that this fiscal establishments and investing Bankss would hold done due diligence and transparence cheques before purchasing mortgage as investing securities.


The paper concludes that by and large the audit-related commissariats of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act are aimed towards beef uping of hearer independency. Since the other countries of the audit theoretical account have been blamed for assorted frauds, the Act may be handling the index of the audit prostration which emerges to hold caused the Enron failure.