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5 Firms' Execs Vouch Early on Accuracy of Financial Reports

July 27, 2002|From Bloomberg News

Companies such as FedEx Corp. and PepsiCo Inc. are certifying the accuracy of their financial statements before the starting date set by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In addition to PepsiCo and FedEx, the chief executives and chief financial officers of at least three other companies have filed the required certifications with the SEC. They include AMR Corp., Fiserv Inc. of Brookfield, Wis., and Delphi Corp. The SEC released certifications from those five companies Friday.

Confronted by a wave of corporate scandals at companies such as WorldCom Inc. and Enron Corp., the SEC recently adopted rules requiring the CEOs and CFOs of 947 U.S. companies to attest that financial reports filed with the agency are accurate and complete.

Under the rules recently adopted by the SEC, companies don't have to begin submitting the certifications until Aug. 14, but documents released by the agency Friday show that some executives are getting ahead on the issue.

"Why not do it right away?" said Kenneth Jensen, the chief financial officer of Fiserv, a provider of information management technology to banks and brokerages. "We filed our statements so we might as well file our certifications too."

Other companies said they believe they can get a public relations edge by filing ahead. An early filing permits the firms to distance themselves from those plagued by accounting scandals, they said.

The language in the certifications adheres to guidelines recommended by the SEC on June 28. Each CEO certified under oath that "to the best of my knowledge," his most recent annual reports filed with the SEC didn't contain an "untrue statement of a material fact" or neglect to include a material fact.

Linda Thomsen, deputy director of enforcement at the SEC, recently said she expected more companies to revise financial statements before having their CEOs and CFOs swear that their financial statements are on target.

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