House Approves Some SOX Relief for Issuers < $1B

by Hiller Hardie 14. March 2012 11:00

 

The House recently approved a measure aimed at creating jobs and easing the regulatory burden on smaller businesses.   A major component of this bill exempts small and mid size businesses initiating public offerings from some key provisions of Sarbanes Oxley.  As drafted, prospective issuers with less than $1 billion in revenue and $700 million in publicly traded stock would no longer be subject to external audits of their internal controls (among other things).

 

As I have noted in prior blogs, there has been tension between the conflicting goals of protecting investors and shielding business from excessive regulation.  While the above measure still needs to pass the Senate and be signed by the President, it is a strong indication that the latter goal is gaining traction. I do believe this is a good trend but also urge caution in moving too far. There continue to be major “blows” in financial reporting, such as those recently announced by Diamond Foods.  Moreover, outright fraud can be perpetrated by public companies.  The recent story of Puda Coal (a Chinese company which gained access to the US securities markets via a “reverse merger”) is an excellent case in point.  In this saga, the executives of this company effectively stripped the company of all operating assets, leaving shareholders with a shell company. 

 

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