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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Vote Democratic, really

Can ya help a multibillion dollar corporation

Businesses Seek Protection on Legal Front

Published: October 29, 2006

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 — Frustrated with laws and regulations that have made companies and accounting firms more open to lawsuits from investors and the government, corporate America — with the encouragement of the Bush administration — is preparing to fight back.

Now that corruption cases like Enron and WorldCom are falling out of the news, two influential industry groups with close ties to administration officials are hoping to swing the regulatory pendulum in the opposite direction. The groups are drafting proposals to provide broad new protections to corporations and accounting firms from criminal cases brought by federal and state prosecutors as well as a stronger shield against civil lawsuits from investors.

Although the details are still being worked out, the groups’ proposals aim to limit the liability of accounting firms for the work they do on behalf of clients, to force prosecutors to target individual wrongdoers rather than entire companies, and to scale back shareholder lawsuits.

The groups hope to reduce what they see as some burdens imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, landmark post-Enron legislation adopted in 2002. The law, which placed significant new auditing and governance requirements on companies, gave broad discretion for interpretation to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The groups are also interested in rolling back rules and policies that have been on the books for decades.

To alleviate concerns that the new Congress may not adopt the proposals — regardless of which party holds power in the legislative branch next year — many are being tailored so that they could be adopted through rulemaking by the S.E.C. and enforcement policy changes at the Justice Department.

The proposals will begin to be laid out in public shortly after Election Day, members of the groups said in recent interviews. One of the committees was formed by the United States Chamber of Commerce and until recently was headed by Robert K. Steel.

Mr. Steel was sworn in last Friday as the new Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance, and he is the senior official in the department who will be formulating the Treasury’s views on the issues being studied by the two groups.

The second committee was formed by the Harvard Law professor Hal S. Scott, along with R. Glenn Hubbard, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Bush, and John L. Thornton, a former president of Goldman Sachs, where he worked with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.

That group has colloquially become known around Washington as the Paulson Committee because the relatively new Treasury secretary issued an encouraging statement when it was formed last month. But administration officials said Friday that he was not playing a role in the group’s deliberations.

Its members include Donald L. Evans, a former commerce secretary who remains a close friend of President Bush; Samuel A. DiPiazza Jr., chief executive of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting giant; Robert R. Glauber, former chairman and chief executive of the National Association of Securities Dealers, the private group that oversees the securities industry; and the chief executives of DuPont, Office Depot and the CIT Group.

The only way to stop this is to elect a Democratic House and Senate who can investigate and subpeona and pass bills which will prevent this. Because otherwise, people will lose the right to whatever justice they can get now.

They don't believe in the law, or justice, just protecting their own.

posted by Steve @ 1:25:00 AM

1:25:00 AM

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