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EDITIONS
Friday, 26 July, 2002, 04:33 GMT 05:33 UK
Fraud bill rushed through Congress
The US is trying to put its corporate house in order
Both houses of the US Congress have overwhelmingly approved the final version of a sweeping corporate reform bill, which aims to increase supervision and punish wayward companies.

President Bush
President Bush is hoping to reassure investors
The bill passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate on the same day, as lawmakers hurried to get a signature from President George W Bush as early as possible.

The legislation is being accelerated as Congress members struggle to appear purposeful ahead of congressional elections in November.

It aims to reassure investors of the trustworthiness of corporate America, with stock markets suffering heavy losses in recent weeks.

Tougher penalties

Now that the bill has been approved, a Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is to be established to oversee auditors of public companies.

Maximum jail sentences for wire and mail fraud will increase to 20 years.

And a new crime on securities fraud will carry a 25-year maximum sentence.

The tightening of controls comes after a series of scandals which include energy failure Enron, accountants Andersen and telecoms firm WorldCom.

'Cosmetic change'

But not everyone is wholly convinced that the bill is much more than a political gesture.

"People have lost their pensions, their retirement," said Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi.

"In the name of corporate reform they [the House of Representatives] continue to pursue cosmetic rather than real change."

President Bush welcomed the bill, however, greeting it as a key part of his recently-announced plan to boost corporate responsibility and ethical standards.


Analysis

IN DEPTH
The Markets: 9:29 UK
FTSE 100 5760.40 -151.7
Dow Jones 11380.99 -119.7
Nasdaq 2243.78 -28.9
FTSE delayed by 15 mins, Dow and Nasdaq by 20 mins
Launch marketwatch
View market data
See also:

25 Jul 02 | Business
24 Jul 02 | Business
10 Jul 02 | Business
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