Tough penalties for corporate deception called for

A bill mandating a minimum of one year in prison for corporate executives who follow in the footsteps of Enron or WorldCom was introduced in the Nevada Assembly on Wednesday.

AB163 was developed by Secretary of State Dean Heller and Assemblyman David Goldwater, D-Las Vegas, to match new federal laws

"In the wake of the Enron scandal and the WorldCom scandal, corporate governance has become a major issue," said Goldwater. "We have to protect consumers and make sure we have adequate deterrents against defrauding people."

Heller said the federal law is aimed primarily at large international corporations.

"But there are some practicalities we can use at the state and local level," he said.

He said extending the statute of limitations on such crimes is critical to his office, which is dealing with up to 20 percent more requests for investigations than two years ago.

"Our biggest enemy in this office is time," he said, pointing out the complexity of investigating accounting practices and securities violations in a large corporation.

AB163 provides a felony penalty of one to 20 years' prison time for anyone who puts false or fraudulent records in evidence, willfully destroys, or alters records. It also extends criminal and civil statutes of limitations for certain securities violations and requires that gaming properties not use the same auditors for both internal and outside audits or financial reports.


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