This is “Overview”, section 1.1 (from appendix 1) from the book Governing Corporations (v. 1.0).
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The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 imposes significant new disclosure and corporate governance requirements for public companies and also provides for substantially increased liability under the federal securities laws for public companies and their executives and directors. After it was adopted, the NYSE, NASDAQ, and AMEX adopted more comprehensive reporting requirements for listed companies, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a host of new regulations aimed a strengthening transparency and accountability through more timely and accurate disclosure of information about corporate performance.
The most important changes concern director independence, the composition and responsibilities of the audit, nominating and compensation committees, shareholder approval of equity compensation plans, codes of ethics or conduct, the certification of financial statements by executives, payments to directors and officers of the corporation, the creation of an independent accounting oversight board, and the disclosure of internal controls.