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U.S. SEC breathes new life into 2015 executive compensation clawback rule By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler speaks before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing to examine the SEC’s activities on Capitol Hill, Washington, U.S.A, September 14th, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hocks

By Katanga Johnson

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission voted on Thursday to revive a rule that was left unfinished in 2015. It would allow the regulator to increase its powers to recover executives’ compensation if a company has to correct its financials because of a violation.

SEC stated that it was seeking additional public feedback regarding the rule. It had been mandated by Congress in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crises. With a view towards finalizing the rule next year,

In 2015, the SEC had drafted a draft but it was never finalized. It is part of the larger push made by the SEC by Democrats to curb corporate fraud by increasing its ability to penalize executives.

Gary Genlser (chair of the agency) stated in a statement, that the agency is reopening its comment period to allow the watchdog to “enhance the transparency and quality corporate financial statements as well as corporate executives’ accountability to investors.”

When finalized, this measure would be applicable to all public companies regardless of their size and to executive officers who make policymaking decisions.

In the case of a company having to correct its financials because it has not met securities law requirements, the SEC can use this new power to seek compensation beyond what they should have received.

The three-year period leading to restatement would include any payments made, regardless of whether or not the misstatement resulted from fraud, error, or some other factor.

The Act would direct U.S. stock markets to set listing standards, which would force each issuer of securities to create and implement such policies.

Five SEC commissioners voted unanimously to open the comment period again on Thursday. They also proposed a stricter interpretation of the rule that was different from the 2015 version. This included reexamining the definition of accounting restatement and the standard of what “reasonably ought have concluded” for initiating a look back.

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