A few years ago, when senior executives took to the podium to report their companies' earnings, no one really questioned if they were telling the truth. Today, because Enron, WorldCom and other companies have so blatantly duped investors, the federal government is hovering over them, saying "Prove it."With the threat of criminal penalties, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) holds senior executives personally accountable for the accuracy of their companies' financial statements. The law also requires publicly traded firms, including insurers, to document and test their internal financial controls, and report within 48 hours any "material" events or weaknesses that may affect their earnings.

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