President Bush says he is ready to sign legislation cracking down on corporate corruption. A series of U.S. business scandals have shaken investor confidence and contributed to a drop in the stock market.
President Bush commended the bipartisan support in Congress for tougher penalties for corporate executives convicted of fraud.
He says he is looking forward to signing compromise legislation passed by both houses of Congress Thursday because it will punish wrongdoers and help restore investor confidence in the honesty of corporate America. "There will be accountability for chief executive officers and accountability for those who count the numbers to make sure that our investors and employees across America feel confident in what they are being told from corporate America," said Mr. Bush.
The bill passed by Congress increases penalties for corporate executives convicted of fraud and gives investors more time to file lawsuits against corporations who have misused their investments.
President Bush says federal investigators are going after corporate fraud with active prosecutions and tough enforcement to defend what he calls the "rights and interests of every American worker and shareholder."
White House officials say Wednesday's arrest of former top executives from the nation's sixth largest cable TV provider (Adelphia Communications Corp.) is a "clear sign" of the administration's commitment to enforce the law.
Prosecutors accuse the former executives of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from company shareholders. The arrests follow a series of business scandals and accounting malpractices that have contributed to a nine-week slide in the U.S. stock market.
President Bush is trying to restore some of that confidence by focusing on what he says are the underlying strengths of the U.S. economy. "I want you to know that I believe the economy is fundamentally strong," he emphasized. "Our economy is growing. Inflation is low. We have lower taxes which help people keep their own money. And when you have your own money, it means you have more money to spend."
As part of the administration's crackdown on corporate corruption, the Securities and Exchange Commission is requiring corporate executives to verify the truthfulness of their financial statements. They are also investigating accounting practices at some of the country's biggest companies.
Among those under investigation is an oil firm that was led by Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Bush says he is confident investigators will find Mr. Cheney has done nothing wrong.