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The Audit Committee Handbook

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The Audit Committee Handbook, 9780471488842 (0471488844), John Wiley & Sons, 2004
Since the publication of the third edition of The Audit Committee Handbook in
1999, a number of major accounting scandals (e.g., Enron,WorldCom, and others)
as well as the demise of the international accounting firm of Anderson LLP have
shaken the global capital markets. As a result, the U.S. Congress enacted the Sarbanes-
Oxley Act of 2002 and the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted
final rules amending the securities laws. Likewise, the Self-Regulatory Organizations
set forth a number of amendments to their listing standards with respect to
corporate governance and accountability. The major thrust of these reforms is to
create a new regulatory and legal environment and corporate accountability framework,
which, in turn, provides an effective financial reporting system with relevant
and reliable financial information. The primary goal is to restore investor confidence
through an efficient securities market system.

Historically, the role and responsibilities of the audit committee as a key institution
in corporate governance has been accepted as an important oversight mechanism
to help the board of directors discharge its fiduciary financial responsibility
and stewardship accountability to the shareholders. However, the aforementioned
events have caused a reexamination of the audit committee’s role in the context of
corporate governance. In fact, these events have caused a number of best practices
for the audit committee to become federal statute. Given these mandates, members
of audit committees must adhere to higher standards in corporate accountability to
ensure the quality of financial information and investor protection against accounting
scandals. Audit committees in a global securities marketplace continue to
respond to the investing public’s demand for oversight protection. (See Appendix D
on this book’s website.) As noted, such committees not only help engender a high
degree of integrity in both the internal and external audit processes and financial
reporting process, but they also help provide for an efficient and transparent securities
market. For example, many countries with developed equity markets or
emerging markets have adopted audit committees through public and/or private
sector initiatives to ensure price protection of their securities to investors. Moreover,
the recent initiatives to develop and adopt harmonized international accounting
and auditing standards accentuate the need to achieve uniformity in
oversight protection to investors. It should be noted that companies will use the endorsement
of these standards by the International Organization of Securities Commissions
in their stock offering documents to raise capital in a global securities
marketplace.
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