The Sarbanes ? Oxley Act of 2002 was signed into law in July 2002. It makes the most significant changes in corporate governance since the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The purpose of the new law is to protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures. The law created an independent Public Company Accounting Oversight Board to oversee the audit of public interest in providing informative and accurate information. Another part of the law requires executive certification of accuracy and completeness of annual and quarterly reports submitted to the SEC. The Sarbanes ? Oxley Act also calls for the independence of board members and the ability of shareholders to fire the board or board members not acting in the interests of said shareholders. This Act deals with corporate and criminal fraud, and provides criminal penalties for defrauding shareholders of publicly traded companies. In March 2003, the USA Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama charged the Vice President of Finance of Health South with conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud in a $1.4 billion scandal and four former CFOs pled guilty to fraud charges.
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