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Few people can quibble with the spirit and intent of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Admittedly, it was a response to what before 2001 would have been considered unimaginable excesses. But the scandals did occur, and giant companies with tens of thousands of shareholders and employees were sent into bankruptcy because of improprieties. No, the problem with Sarbanes-Oxley has never been the act itself or the need for it. What gave SarbOx a bad name was the lack of follow-up by regulators who allowed the rules to be defined by the very professionals who would profit from taking every exercise to extremes. For middle market companies, the financial burden has been untenable. However, to its credit, the Securities and Exchange Commission listened to the complaints and is now attempting to rectify the omission by granting delays and investigating avenues of relief. More specific guidelines would help companies of all sizes, but in the case of small and midsize companies, there is the hope the SEC will recognize that a one-size-fits-all policy, just as with clothes, ends up fitting no one particularly well.


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