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Ethics Waivers Rare; Most Posted On Corporate Web Sites

Martinek Paul J. | March 22, 2005

Waivers to company codes of ethics have been relatively rare, and when they have been made they have generally been revealed on the corporate Web site rather than in 8-K filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Under SEC rules adopted in January 2003 under The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, companies are not required to have a code of ethics governing high-ranking officers; however, if they chose not to have one, they must tell the Commission why.

As a practical matter, companies have almost universally adopted an ethics code, which is posted on their Web site and referenced in their annual report.

According to the Commission’s rules, certain changes to a company’s ethics code or a waiver of it with respect to a senior officer must be noted either in a Form 8-K filing or on the company’s Web site, and this must be done within five...

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