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Although this information by itself is insufficient for making the capital markets work well, it is generally considered to be helpful. Furthermore, the existence of a regular reporting system brings discipline to the process. Because corporate managers know that efforts to mislead the market will generally be revealed when the statements are published, they are less likely to present fabrications. The important economic role of financial statements causes society to be concerned about the activities of financial accountants and justifies setting up controls and other regulatory devices to help ensure the availability and usefulness of the information.

The purpose of registration is to establish a complete and widely available public record of information about the registrant and the securities. For example, registration creates a substantial amount of public information about the officers, directors, and other agents of the corporation, including promoters and underwriters. It also publicizes the company’s plans for using the capital raised by issuing the securities. In the case of a company that has existed previously, registration also requires the presentation of financial statements and other financial data.

Documents and information gathered by the PCAOB in the course of an investigation are not subject to civil discovery. PCAOB sanctions include the ability to suspend or disbar firms or individual CPAs from auditing public companies, as well as monetary penalties as high as $750,000 for individuals and $15 million for firms. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act amends the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934 to define as GAAP those principles promulgated by a standard-setting body where the standard-setting body meets a number of requirements set out in the Act.

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