Former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes Signed to Keynote WOCCU Conference
MADISON, Wis.—Paul Sarbanes, the former Democratic senator from Maryland and co-author of The
Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act, better known as
Sarbanes-Oxley, will keynote the World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU's) 2008
World Credit Union Conference. The annual event this year takes place in Hong Kong from July 13-16.
|Former Senator Paul Sarbanes will speak to attendees of the 2008 World CU Conference in Hong Kong. His keynote address will focus on the importance of good governance in today's business world.
The legislation, authored by Sarbanes and then Rep. Michael
Oxley (R-Ohio) and signed into law on July 30, 2002, created a strong
independent oversight board to monitor the auditors of public companies and
enable the board to set accounting standards and investigate and discipline
accountants. It addresses conflicts of interest, ensures auditor independence,
strengthens corporate governance by requiring corporate leaders to be
personally responsible for the accuracy of their company's financial reports
and establishes safeguards to protect against investment analysts' conflicts of
In addition to making the names of
Sarbanes, a long-time credit union supporter, and Oxley household words, the
legislation created in the wake of the Enron and Worldcom failures also is
credited for transforming the business world and restoring worldwide public confidence
in Wall Street by holding companies liable for unethical actions.
Sarbanes, reached at his Maryland home, took time to answer WOCCU's
questions about the legislation, financial transparency, credit unions and what
attendees at the 2008 World Credit Union Conference can expect from his
Throughout your career you've supported credit unions and their service to
members. Did the development of Sarbanes-Oxley change that point of view?
Sarbanes: No, credit unions remain very
important players in the financial services field. I like the fact that they
are member-owned and member-focused. You've also promoted financial literacy,
which puts you squarely on the side of your members' best interests. A lot of
complex situations and institutions have evolved in financial services over the
years, but credit unions have stayed focused on member service.
You're referencing many of the elements that make up the credit union
"difference," yet the banking industry still contends that we occupy an uneven
playing field. Based on your experiences, do you think that attitude will ever
Sarbanes: Some of that tension will
continue because, in some respects, you're competitors. But each of you has a
role to play in the financial system and you should be able to exist together.
We've tried to help credit unions on the membership issue in the past, but
credit unions need to be careful not to try and play the same game as their
competitors. Credit unions must remain faithful to their mission and stay close
to their members. Those are the same concepts WOCCU strongly supports with its
development efforts in other countries.
Your Congressional legacy, of course, was the passage of what is universally
referred to as the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation. Even though credit unions are
not publically held companies, how do they fit in with your parameters?
Sarbanes: Transparency of financial records
and activity is the legislation's cornerstone, and for credit unions such
things always have been at the forefront. There has been increasing demand for
greater transparency since passage of the legislation, and credit unions have
been very high up when it comes to financial accountability.
What do you plan to talk about at the World Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong in July?
Sarbanes: I'm going to review what happened
that led up the passage of the legislation and what its implications are for
businesses worldwide. The bottom-line message is that everyone should be
interested in honesty and accountability, not only consumers but businesses as
well. The small percentage of business people who operate dishonestly can have
a profound impact. They tarnish everyone and their actions can have widespread
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.
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Contact: Rebecca Carpenter
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions