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SEC mounts attack on post-Enron corporate crackdown

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SEC mounts attack on post-Enron corporate crackdown
First, the political Establishment designs a "free" trade policy rewarding countries that allow all sorts of environmental, labor, workplace and human rights abuses. Now, we find out that the Establishment is going to reward countries that don't follow strict corporate accounting rules.

Specifically, the Financial Times reports that "U.S. regulators on Wednesday proposed that foreign companies with New York stock market listings be able more easily to terminate expensive financial reporting obligations in the U.S." That's right, "The Securities and Exchange Commission plans to make it easier for foreign companies to end their reporting duties...after European complaints about the costs stemming from the Sarbanes-Oxley law on accounting and corporate governance."

So let's understand what's really going on - Big Money interests have been desperately trying to water down or eliminate even the weak reporting requirements in the post-Enron Sarbanes-Oxley bill. But even the bought-off Congress has, so far, been too embarrassed to make such a move so soon after the corporate scandals. So the Bush administration is now using its regulatory authority to do what it can to achieve that goal. And their biggest regulatory authority that can circumvent Congress is the authority to weaken the reporting requirements on foreign companies.

Not only are efforts to destroy Sarbanes-Oxley generally a disgusting reversal from all the "corporate responsibility" rhetoric we heard after the Enron scandal, but worse - this specific move actually punishes American companies that have to play by the reporting requirements, while rewarding foreign companies that don't. Put another way, America's own regulatory agency is insisting that American companies spend more to comply with the law than it is insisting fron foreign companies. Isn't this just an incentive for U.S. companies to move their operations to other countries?

My guess is that Bush crony Chris Cox, the former corporate securities lawyer who heads the SEC, is trying to create this inequity in order to intensify domestic business pressure on politicians to just eliminate the Sarbanes-Oxley bill as a whole. But still - this move is one where we can literally see the American government selling out its own business community and its own citizens just to do the bidding of multinational corporate power.

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David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and NPR. His writing, which draws on his (more...)

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