July 30, 2017 marked the 15th anniversary of the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), legislation responding to high-profile financial scandals in several major public companies. Congressional interest began in late 2001 with investigative hearings into Enron Corporation's accounting practices. The working relationship between the external accounting firm and company management had become collusive, and massive fraud was revealed.
In the spring of 2002, on the heels of the Enron debacle, additional financial frauds were uncovered in public companies, including Worldcom and Adelphia, further rocking the U.S. capital markets and profoundly undermining public confidence in the system of investor protection. This spurred definitive legislative action. With near unanimous, bi-partisan approval in the House and Senate, SOX was signed into law on July 30, 2002.
Among other changes, SOX resulted in new corporate governance requirements for companies and boards, new independence rules for external auditors, and a new regulator - the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board -- for accounting firms conducting audits of public companies.
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From 1968 to 1978, Harvey Pitt served on the staff of the SEC, eventually becoming the agency's youngest-ever General Counsel in 1975 at age 30. From 2001 - 2003 he was the 26th SEC Chairman. For nearly 25 years prior to serving as SEC Chairman, Mr. Pitt was a partner in the law firm, Fried, Frank LLP. After he left the SEC, he founded the strategic consulting firm, Kalorama Partners, LLC. He was a founding trustee and first President of the SEC Historical Society.
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