Senator Santorum and Panel Comment on SOX

Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) was the keynote speaker Monday in a panel discussion sponsored by the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

Senator Santorum who is Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and a member of both the Senate Banking and Finance Committees, is the most likely of the four panelists to be in a position to influence the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulatory bodies. Other panelist included Michael Fox, vice-president of iGate Corp., William Lyons, CFO of Consol Energy, Joseph Diggins, an Ernst and Young Risk Services partner, and Joanne O’Rourke Hindman, Special Advisor to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. The discussion was held at the Rivers Club in Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania.

“I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which set a new standard for corporate responsibility in our nation’s public companies,” Senator Santorum is quoted as saying in a written statement released by his office. “I believe this bipartisan bill has done much to restore investor confidence in our markets and to help prevent future corporate fraud and accounting corruption. The U.S. financial markets, despite recent troubles, are still the most fair and efficient in the world.”

Other panelists also praised the Act, though not in the senator’s glowing terms.

“One advantage was the law did formalize our (accounting) processes,” iGate’s Michael Fox stated, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Others criticized the Act, joining many others across the country, who say it is too complicated and expensive to comply with. William Lyons, CFO of Consol Energy, also took issue with the Act’s requirement that CEOs and CFO must personally attest to the accuracy and honesty of their corporate financial statements or face a possible prison term of 20 years.

Acknowledging the criticism, Senator Santorum admitted to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “We tend to overreact. There was an environment that said everyone in business was a (WorldCom chief) Bernie Ebbers, and we have to protect the public.”

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