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The Ventura County Reporter
Aug 15, 2002

by Martin Jones Westlin

Upping the Ante

The WorldComs and Enrons of the universe are already suffocating under their own dirty laundry. And in the state of California, next week may mark the need for an extra chute.

The so-called Whistleblower Protection Act, (SB 783) which recentely passed in the state Senate, would hold corporate executives civilly liable for financial misconduct they had knowledge of but failed to report. Under the bill, executives and managers would be required to relay information on corporate and accounting fraud or face heavy fines. Recently signed federal legislation penalizing such practices includes nothing about reporting them.

The action also would impose up to $1 million in fines on corporations that withhold financial fraud information, provide new protections for those who provide such data and establish a whistleblower hotline for access to law enforcement.

The bill (SB 783) could be voted on by the state Assembly as early as next Tuesday.

Margaret Strubel, spokesperson for the Oaks Project, cited the need for legislative safeguards in the wake of the corporate revelations. "Self-regulation equals no regulation," she explained. "People's lives have been ruined and their futures have been destroyed by all the scandal-riddled corporations. [Assemblymembers need] to vote for the strongest corporate reform legislation out there."

The nonprofit Oaks Project was founded in 1997 by consumer advocates Ralph Nader and Harvey Rosenfield to encourage more effective citizen participation in California government.

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