1. Statement of Policy
This Charter specifies the scope of the responsibilities of the Audit Committee (the "Committee") of the Board of Directors (the "Board") of Abaxis, Inc. (the "Company") and the manner in which those responsibilities shall be performed, including its structure, processes and membership requirements.
The primary purpose of the Committee is to assist the Board in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities by reviewing and reporting to the Board on the integrity of the financial reports and other financial information provided by the Company to any governmental body or to the public, and on the Company's compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. The Committee shall also review the qualifications, independence and performance, and approve the terms of engagement of the Company's independent auditor and prepare any reports required of the Committee under rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC").
The Company shall provide appropriate funding, as determined by the Committee, to permit the Committee to perform its duties under this Charter, to compensate its advisors and to compensate any registered public accounting firm engaged for the purpose of rendering or issuing an audit report or related work or performing other audit, review or attest services for the Company. The Committee, at its discretion, has the authority to initiate special investigations, and, hire special legal, accounting or other outside advisors or experts to assist the Committee, as it deems necessary to fulfill its duties under this Charter. The Committee may also perform such other activities consistent with this Charter, the Company's Bylaws and governing law, as the Committee or the Board deems necessary or appropriate.
2. Organization and Membership Requirements
The Committee shall comprise three or more directors selected by the Board, each of whom shall satisfy the independence and experience requirements of The Nasdaq Stock Market. In addition, the Committee shall not include any member who:
· accepts any consulting, advisory, or other compensatory fee, directly or indirectly, from the Company, other than in his or her capacity as a member of the Committee, the Board, or any other committee of the Board; or
· is an executive officer of the Company, or beneficially owns or controls, directly or indirectly, more than 10% of the Company's outstanding common stock or is otherwise an affiliate of the Company or any subsidiary of the Company, other than a director who meets the independence requirements of The Nasdaq Stock Market.
Each member of the Committee must be able to read and understand fundamental financial statements, including a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. In addition, at least one member shall have past employment experience in finance or accounting, professional certification in accounting, or other comparable experience or background resulting in the individual being financially sophisticated, which may include being or having been a chief executive, chief financial or other senior officer with financial oversight responsibilities. At least one member shall be an audit committee financial expert as determined by the Board in accordance with the rules of the SEC. No Committee member shall simultaneously serve on the audit committee of more than three public companies without prior disclosure to the Committee and the Board and an affirmative determination by the Board that such service does not impair the ability of such member to serve effectively on the Committee, which determination shall be disclosed in the annual proxy statement.
The members of the Committee shall be appointed by the Board and shall serve until their successors are duly elected and qualified or their earlier resignation or removal. Any member of the Committee may be replaced by the Board. Unless a chairman is elected by the full Board, the members of the Committee may designate a chairman by majority vote of the full Committee membership.
The Committee shall meet as often as it determines, but not less frequently than quarterly. The Committee may form and delegate authority to subcommittees, or to one or more members of the Committee, when appropriate. The Committee shall meet with management and the independent auditor in separate executive sessions as appropriate. The Committee shall meet with the independent auditor and management on a quarterly basis to review the Company's financial statements and financial reports. The Committee shall maintain written minutes of its meetings, which minutes will be filed with the minutes of the meetings of the Board. The Committee will also record summaries of its recommendations to the Board in written form, which will be incorporated as part of the minutes of the Board meeting at which those recommendations are presented.
4. Committee Authority and Responsibilities
To fulfill its responsibilities and duties, the Committee shall:
a. Oversight of the Company's Independent Auditor
i. Be directly and solely responsible for the appointment, compensation, retention and oversight of any independent auditor (including resolution of disagreements between management and the independent auditor regarding financial reporting) engaged by the Company for the purpose of preparing or issuing an audit report or related work, with each such auditor reporting directly to the Committee.
ii. Periodically review and discuss with the independent auditor (i) the matters required to be discussed by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 61, as amended, and (ii) any formal written statements received from the independent auditor consistent with and in satisfaction of Independence Standards Board Standard No. 1, as amended, including without limitation, descriptions of (x) all relationships between the auditor and the Company, (y) any disclosed relationships or services that may impact the independent auditor's objectivity and independence and (z) whether any of the Company's senior finance personnel were recently employed by the independent auditor.
iii. Obtain and review annually a report from the independent auditor describing (i) the auditor's internal quality-control procedures, (ii) any material issues raised by the most recent internal quality-control review or peer reviews or by any inquiry or investigation by governmental or professional authorities within the preceding five years respecting one or more independent audits carried out by the firm, and any steps taken to deal with such issues, and (iii) all relationships between the independent auditor and the Company.
iv. Evaluate annually the qualifications, performance and independence of the independent auditor, including a review of whether the independent auditor's quality-control procedures are adequate and a review and evaluation of the lead partner of the independent auditor, taking into account the opinions of management and the Company's internal auditors, and report to the Board on its conclusions, together with any recommendations for additional action.
v. Consult with the independent auditor to and assure the rotation of the lead audit partner having primary responsibility for the audit and the audit partner responsible for reviewing the audit every five years, consider issues related to the timing of such rotation and the transition to new lead and reviewing partners, and consider whether, in order to assure continuing auditor independence, there should be regular rotation of the audit firm, and report to the Board on its conclusions.
vi. Approve in advance the engagement of the independent auditor for all audit services and non-audit services, based on independence, qualifications and, if applicable, performance, and approve the fees and other terms of any such engagement; provided, however, that (i) the Committee may establish pre-approval policies and procedures for any engagement to render such services, provided that such polices and procedures (x) are detailed as to particular services, (y) do not involve delegation to management of the Committee's responsibilities hereunder and (z) provide that, at its next scheduled meeting, the Committee is informed as to each such service for which the independent auditor is engaged pursuant to such policies and procedures, and (ii) the Committee may delegate to one or more members of the Committee the authority to grant pre-approvals for such services, provided that (a) the decisions of such member(s) to grant any such pre-approval shall be presented to the Committee at its next scheduled meeting and (b) the Committee has established policies and procedures for such pre-approval of services consistent with the requirements of clauses (i)(x) and (y) above.
vii. Meet with the independent auditor prior to the audit to discuss the planning and staffing of the audit.
viii. Approve as necessary the termination of the engagement of the independent auditor.
ix. Establish policies for the hiring of employees or former employees of the independent auditor who participated in any capacity in the audit of the Company, taking into account the impact of such policies on auditor independence.
x. Regularly review with the independent auditor any significant difficulties encountered during the course of the audit, any restrictions on the scope of work or access to required information and any significant disagreement among management and the independent auditor in connection with the preparation of the financial statements. Review with the independent auditor any accounting adjustments that were noted or proposed by the auditor but that were "passed" (as immaterial or otherwise), any communications between the audit team and the auditor's national office respecting auditing or accounting issues presented by the engagement, any "management" or "internal control" letter or schedule of unadjusted differences issued, or proposed to be issued, by the auditor to the Company, or any other material written communication provided by the auditor to the Company's management.
xi. Review with the independent auditor the critical accounting policies and practices used by the Company, all alternative treatments of financial information within generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP") that the independent auditor has discussed with management, the ramifications of the use of such alternative disclosures and treatments and the treatment preferred by the independent auditor.
b. Review of Financial Reporting, Policies and Processes
i. Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor the Company's annual audited financial statements and any certification, report, opinion or review rendered by the independent auditor, and recommend to the Board whether the audited financial statements should be included in the Company's annual report on Form 10-K.
ii. Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor the Company's quarterly financial statements.
iii. Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor the Company's disclosure under "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" appearing in the Company's periodic reports.
iv. Review and discuss earnings press releases and other information provided to securities analysts and rating agencies, including any "pro forma" or adjusted financial information.
v. Periodically meet separately with management and with the independent auditor.
vi. Review with management and the independent auditor any significant judgments made in management's preparation of the financial statements and the view of each as to appropriateness of such judgments.
vii. Review with management its assessment of the effectiveness and adequacy of the Company's internal control structure and procedures for financial reporting ("Internal Controls"), review annually with the independent auditor the attestation to and report on the assessment made by management, and consider with management and the independent auditor whether any changes to the Internal Controls are appropriate in light of management's assessment or the independent auditor's attestation.
viii. Review with management its evaluation of the Company's procedures and controls designed to assure that information required to be disclosed in its periodic public reports is recorded, processed, summarized and reported in such reports within the time periods specified by the SEC for the filing of such reports ("Disclosure Controls"), and consider whether any changes are appropriate in light of management's evaluation of the effectiveness of such Disclosure Controls.
ix. Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor any off-balance sheet transactions or structures and their effect on the Company's financial results and operations, as well as the disclosure regarding such transactions and structures in the Company's public filings.
x. Review with management and the independent auditor the effect of regulatory and accounting initiatives on the financial statements. Review any major issues regarding accounting principles and financial statement presentations, including any significant changes in selection of an application of accounting principles. Consider and approve, if appropriate, changes to the Company's auditing and accounting principles and practices as suggested by the independent auditor or management.
xi. Review any analyses prepared by management and/or the independent auditor setting forth significant financial reporting issues and judgments made in connection with the preparation of the financial statements, including the effects of alternative GAAP methods on the financial statements.
xii. Review any special audit steps adopted in light of material control deficiencies.
c. Risk Management, Related Party Transactions, Legal Compliance and Ethics
i. Review with the chief executive and chief financial officer of the Company any report on significant deficiencies in the design or operation of the Internal Controls that could adversely affect the Company's ability to record, process, summarize or report financial data, any material weaknesses in Internal Controls identified to the auditors, and any fraud, whether or not material, that involves management or other employees who have a significant role in the Company's Internal Controls.
ii. Review and approve any related-party transactions, after reviewing each such transaction for potential conflicts of interests and other improprieties.
iii. Establish procedures for the receipt, retention and treatment of complaints received by the Company regarding accounting, internal accounting controls or auditing matters, and the confidential, anonymous submission by employees of the Company of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters. Adopt, as necessary, appropriate remedial measures or actions with respect to such complaints or concerns.
iv. Consider and present to the Board for adoption a Code of Ethics for the Company's principal executive officer, principal financial officer, principal accounting officer or controller, and persons performing similar functions, which meets the requirements of Item 406 of the SEC's Regulation S-K, and provide for and review prompt disclosure to the public of any change in, or waiver of, such Code of Ethics. Review such Code of Ethics periodically and recommend such changes to such Code of Ethics as the Committee shall deem appropriate, and adopt procedures for monitoring and enforcing compliance with such Code of Ethics.
v. Consult with the Board regarding its adoption of a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics applicable to all employees and directors and required by the rules of The Nasdaq Stock Market, and adopt procedures for monitoring and enforcing compliance with such Code of Business Conduct.
vi. As requested by the Board, review and investigate conduct alleged by the Board to be in violation of the Company's Code of Ethics or the Company's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, and adopt as necessary or appropriate, remedial, disciplinary, or other measures with respect to such conduct.
vii. Discuss with management and the independent auditor any correspondence with regulators or governmental agencies that raise material issues regarding the Company's financial statements or accounting policies.
viii. Discuss guidelines and policies to govern the process by which risk assessment and management is undertaken and handled. Discuss with management the Company's major financial risk exposures and the steps management has taken to monitor and control such exposures.
ix. Review with the Company's general counsel and report to the Board on litigation, material government investigations and compliance with applicable legal requirements and the Company's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.
x. Prepare the report required by the rules of the SEC to be included in the Company's annual proxy statement.
xi. Develop and implement an annual performance evaluation of the Committee.
xii. Regularly report to the Board on the Committee's activities, recommendations and conclusions.
xiii. Review and reassess the Charter's adequacy as appropriate.