Purpose

 

The Audit Committee, which shall consist of no fewer than three members appointed by the Board to monitor (1) the integrity of the Company’s financial statements, (2) the compliance by the Company with legal and regulatory requirements, (3) the qualifications, independence and performance of the independent auditors, and (4) the performance of the Company’s internal audit function.

 

Statement of Policy

 

The Audit Committee shall provide assistance to the Board of Directors in fulfilling their oversight responsibility relating to the Company’s financial statements and the financial reporting process, the system of internal accounting and financial controls, the internal audit function and the annual independent audit of the Company’s financial statements. In so doing, it is the responsibility of the Committee to maintain free and open communication between the Committee, independent auditors, the internal auditors and management of the Company. In discharging its oversight role, the Committee is empowered full access to all books, records, facilities, and personnel of the Company.

 

Committee Membership

 

The members of the Audit Committee shall meet the independence, experience and financial expertise requirements of the New York Stock Exchange and Section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the rules promulgated thereunder.

 

Directors’ fees (including any committee fees) shall be the only compensation that an Audit Committee member may receive from the Company. The members of the Audit Committee shall serve until successors are appointed and qualify. The Board shall designate the Chairman of the Audit Committee.

 

The Board shall have the power at any time to change the membership of the Audit Committee and to fill vacancies in it, subject to such new member(s) satisfying the independence, experience and financial expertise requirements.

 

Authority and Responsibilities

 

The Audit Committee shall have a clear understanding with management and the independent auditors that the independent auditors are ultimately accountable to the Board and the Audit Committee, as representative of the Company’s shareholders.

 

The Audit Committee shall discuss with the auditors their independence from management and the Company and the matters included in the written disclosures required by the Independence Standards Board, and shall obtain and review a report by the independent auditor describing the firm’s internal quality control procedures and any material issues raised by the most recent internal quality-control review, and steps taken to deal with any such issues.

 

The Audit Committee shall have the sole authority to appoint or replace the registered public accountants subject, if applicable, to shareholder ratification, and shall approve all audit engagement fees and terms, and all non-audit engagements. The Audit Committee shall consult with management, but shall not delegate their responsibilities, except that pre-approval of non-audit services may be delegated to the Chairman of the Audit Committee.

 

The Audit Committee shall be directly responsible for the compensation and oversight over the work of the registered public accounting firm (including resolution of any disagreement between management and the public accounting firm regarding financial reporting) for the purpose of preparing or issuing an audit report or related work, and the public accounting firm shall report directly to the Audit Committee .

 

The Audit Committee shall have the authority to retain special legal, accounting or other consultants to advise the Committee and carry out its duties, and to conduct or authorize investigations into any matters within its scope of responsibilities. The Audit Committee shall meet periodically with management, the internal auditors, and registered public accountants in separate executive sessions in furtherance of its purposes.

 

The Audit Committee may request any officer or employee of the Company or the Company's outside counsel or independent auditor to attend a meeting of the Committee or to meet with any members of, or consultants to, the Committee.

 

The Audit Committee shall make regular reports to the Board at least once each fiscal year.

 

In performing its oversight function, the Audit Committee, either as a whole or through its chairman, as the committee shall authorize from time to time, shall undertake those tasks and responsibilities that, in its judgment, would most effectively contribute and implement the purposes of the Audit Committee. The following functions are some that the Audit Committee may undertake in carrying out its oversight responsibilities:

 

  

• Review with the independent accountants and management the proposed scope of the annual audit, past audit experience, the Company’s internal audit program, recently completed internal audits, and other matters bearing upon the scope of the audit, and review any audit problems or difficulties and management’s response.

   

• Review the annual audited financial statements with management, including major issues regarding accounting and auditing principles and practices including any significant changes in the Company’s selection or application of accounting principles, as well as the adequacy of internal controls that could significantly affect the Company's financial statements, and recommend to the Board whether the audited financial statements should be included in the Company’s Form 10-K. 

   

• Review any analysis prepared by management and/or the independent auditor of significant financial reporting issues and judgments made in connection with the preparation of the Company's financial statements and any other significant matters revealed in the course of the audit of the annual financial statements of the Company.

   

• Discuss, in general terms, the material content of earnings press releases and financial information and earnings guidance provided to analysts and rating agencies.

   

• Review with management and the independent auditor the Company's quarterly financial statements prior to the filing of its Form 10-Q and the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K, including their judgment about the quality, not just acceptability, of accounting principals, the reasonableness of significant judgments, and the clarity of the disclosures in the financial statements including the "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations", and the matters required to be disclosed pursuant to Auditing Standards No. 61, prior to filing of its Form 10-Q, including the results of the registered public accountants’ review of the quarterly financials to the extent applicable. 

   

• Meet periodically with management to review the Company's major financial risk exposures and the steps management has taken to monitor and control such exposures. 

   

• Provide procedures for the receipt, retention and treatment of complaints received by the Company regarding accounting, internal accounting controls, or auditing matters and for the confidential, anonymous submission by employees of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.

   

• Review and approve the report required by the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission to be included in the Company's annual proxy statement, and annual certifications to the New York Stock Exchange.

   

• Annually review and reassess the Audit Committee’s performance and the adequacy of this Charter and recommend any proposed changes to the Charter to the Board for approval.

   

• Perform any other activities consistent with this Charter, the Company’s by-laws, and governing law, as the Committee or the Board deems necessary or appropriate.

   

• Review and discuss with management and the registered public accountants the adequacy of the Company’s internal controls and special audit steps adopted in light of material control deficiencies.

   

• Obtain and review a report from the public accountants at least annually regarding (a) the registered public accountants’ internal quality control procedures, (b) any material issues raised by the most recent quality control review, or peer review, of the firm, 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, (c) any steps taken to deal with any such issues, and (d) all relationships between the public accountants and the Company. Evaluate the qualifications, performance and independence of the public accountants, including a review and evaluation of the lead partner of the registered public accountant and taking into account the opinions of management and the Company's internal auditors. 

   

• Ensure that the lead audit partner of the public accountants and the audit partner responsible for reviewing the audit are rotated at least every five years as required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

   

• Recommend to the Board policies for the Company's hiring of employees or former employees of the public accountants who were engaged on the Company's account (recognizing that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 does not permit the CEO, controller, CFO or chief accounting officer to have participated in the Company's audit as an employee of the public accountants during the preceding one-year period). 

   

• Discuss with management and the public accountants any accounting adjustments that were noted or proposed by the registered public accountants.

   

• Discuss with the public accountants the internal audit department and its audit plan, responsibilities, budget and staffing. 

   

• Review disclosures made by the Company's principal executive officer or officers and principal financial officer or officers regarding compliance with their certification obligations as required under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the rules promulgated thereunder, including the Company's disclosure controls and procedures and internal controls for financial reporting and evaluations thereof. 

   

• Review any reports of the registered public accountants mandated by Section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and obtain from the registered public accountants any information with respect to illegal acts in accordance with Section 10A.

 

While the Audit Committee has the responsibilities and powers set forth in this Charter, it is not the duty of the Audit Committee to plan or conduct audits or to determine that the Company's financial statements are complete and accurate and are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. This is the responsibility of management and the independent auditor.

 

 

Last reviewed & Updated January 2005