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SEC Delays Implementation of Section 404

The SEC has postponed the implementation of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act from June 15 to November 15 for accelerated filers - U.S. companies with a market cap over $75 million that have filed annual reports with the SEC - and from April 15 2005 to July 15 2005 for all others.

This is the second time the SEC has delayed implementation. The prior compliance date of June 15 was itself revised from last September.

The SEC gave no reason for the postponement, but it might be that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) still has not finalized its standard for auditors, which it proposed in October 2003.

The board now has scheduled an open meeting for March 9 to adopt a final standard. PCAOB chief auditor Douglas Carmichael says the standard will then be posted on the board's web site a few days after. After a short comment period, the standard will have to be approved by the SEC before taking effect.

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