President Bush Thursday urged federal prosecutors to continue cracking down on corporate corruption. The president is responding to a series of U.S. business scandals that have shaken investor confidence in the economy.
President Bush says U.S. business is entering a new era of corporate integrity with laws that now make financial reporting more transparent.
He told a Justice Department conference on corporate corruption that his administration will vigorously prosecute anyone found deceiving investors by inflating corporate profits. "Over the past year, high-profile acts of deception from corporate America have shaken people's trust in corporations, the markets, and in the economy," he said. "A few dishonest individuals have hurt the reputations of many good and honest companies and their executives."
Responding to a wave of accounting scandals that touched some of the country's biggest companies, the president and Congress agreed on a series of laws stiffening penalties for corporate crooks and creating a team of prosecutors and regulators to police business misconduct.
For the sake of America's free market, President Bush says corporate criminals must pay a price. "The fundamentals of a free market buying and selling, saving and investing require clear rules, confidence, and fairness," said President Bush.
The Securities and Exchange Commission required the chief officers of the country's largest public companies to personally certify the accuracy of their public filings.
Changes also include a new accounting oversight board to monitor the accounting industry and strengthen rules governing their independence.
Since the Justice Department task force was established in July, the White House says investigations have started into more than a hundred new cases of corporate fraud.
As the president campaigns for Republican candidates for Congressional elections in November, he is hoping to counter the trend in some public opinion polls showing that a growing number of people feel Republicans are too close to big business.