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You may have lost money in your investment portfolio,
due to mismanagement and not even know it.

Co-author of Sarbanes-Oxley corporate oversight law dies

"A class act."

"A true policymaker."

"A great public servant."

Those are all enviable accolades to be heaped upon any American politician, to be sure, and they are rendered even more impressive because they emanate from both sides of the political aisle on Capitol Hill.

They apply to ex-U.S. Rep. Mike Oxley (R-OH), who, along with former U.S. Rep. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), authored seminal legislation aimed at curbing corporate malfeasance and protecting shareholders and other investors against securities fraud.

The law that bears their names -- the Sarbanes-Oxley Act -- was enacted in 2002 and is widely credited with expanding accuracy in corporate accounting policies and procedures and for increasing penalties against corporate wrongdoers who defraud investors.

Of course, Oxley was pilloried in some sectors for the legislation that bears his name, but he is presently being widely hailed by many commentators for his efforts to curb corporate/securities irregularities and to forge tighter controls over corporate auditors and accountants.

Oxley died last Friday, on January 1. He was 71 years old.

Many of our readers across Los Angeles County and Southern California likely remember with shock -- and even, perhaps, fear -- the outsized accounting/corporate scandals involving Enron and WorldCom, huge energy and telecommunication companies, respectively, whose ranking executives engaged in acts of malfeasance on an a nearly unimaginable level.

As a result of such conduct, Enron's shares plummeted by nearly $70 billion from their highest level. WorldCom reportedly lost approximately $180 billion of its value.

The aftermath was both sad and predictable. Many employees lost their pensions. Scores of thousands of people suffered huge hits to their investment portfolios.

In the wake of the Enron/WorldCom scandals, Oxley noted that "investor confidence is almost an oxymoron these days."

Sarbanes-Oxley was enacted in response to that concern. It became law in 2002.

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