The eighth title of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, also known as the "Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act of 2002," reviews the legal ramifications for corporate fraud.
(article continues below)
The title begins by specifically naming a sentence of being fined and imprisoned up to 20 years if one "knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, [or] falsifies" any document related to Federal investigations or bankruptcy proceedings.
The next section of title eight is concerned with destruction of corporate audit records. It requires than any accountant performing an audit must maintain and keep relevant records of the audit for a minimum of five years after the end of the fiscal period for which the audit was performed.
Anyone who violates this statute is subject to a fine and imprisonment up to ten years. In the Enron accounting scandal of 2002, the accounting firm Arthur Anderson was made infamous for shredding and destroying millions of pages of documents which contained detailed audit information revealing the financial inner workings of the company.
During the Enron trial, in what will be remembered in the annals of legal history, attorneys of the defrauded shareholders walked to the courthouse holding boxes of Arthur Anderson's shredded documents— papers supposed to serve as the evidence of the illegal activities.
This title of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act also designates certain debts as being nondischargeable if they were "incurred in violation of securities fraud laws." This title makes certain debts not applicable to bankruptcy filings, that is, if a person incurs debt as a result of common law or securities fraud then it will effectively become immune to bankruptcy filings and will not be forgiven. This debt includes judgments or orders from federal or state courts or any settlements from cases resulting from the fraudulent activity.
The next major section of the eighth title is concerned with protection for whistleblowers. Titled "Protection for employees of publicly traded companies who provide evidence of fraud," this section outlines the rules regarding treatment of such employees and penalties who those in violation of these rules.
The section begins by specifically prohibiting the company or any employee within to "discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or … discriminate" against anyone inside the company functioning as a whistleblower. This section is designed to protect those who report questionable business activities to the oversight committees or federal authorities.
If an employee suffers any form of consequence by the employer for his or her role as a whistleblower then the employee is entitled to "all relief necessary to make the employee whole." Specific compensatory damages listed under this section include a full reinstatement with the same seniority status, back pay with interest, and compensation for any costs incurred as a result of his or her punishment, including legal fees.
This title concludes with a section setting a punishment of a fine and imprisonment up to 25 years for willfully attempting or initiating a scheme with the resulting goal of performing securities fraud.
Title eight of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act outlines the rules and resulting consequences for acts of and relating to corporate fraud.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Series -- Learn More About Sarbox
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: An Introduction
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Title I
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Title II
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Title III—Audit Committees
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Title III—Blackout Periods
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Title IV
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Title V
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Title VI
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Title VII—Accounting Firms
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Title VII— Past Violators
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Title VIII
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Title IX-XI