Table: The Push for Accountability
Around the world, investors are demanding change
Under proposals of the 2001 Cromme Commission, listed German companies are urged to set up independent audit committees. Large companies such as Schering (SGP ) are switching to International Accounting Standards.
French companies including TotalFinaElf and Saint-Gobain are appointing independent directors and separating the duties of chairmen and CEOs based on proposals of the Vienot Report.
New government rules attack traditional system of corporate control exercised through shell companies, or "Chinese boxes." Even secretive companies like Mediobanca are adopting new principles.
In 2001, telecom-equipment giant Nokia (NOK ) adopts one-share-one-vote rule and elects a majority of independent, non-Finnish members to its board. But in Sweden, reform has been slow.
Stringent new measures to promote corporate transparency are adopted by government in April. For the first time, certain types of financial wrongdoing, such as insider trading, become criminal offenses.
In 2001, the Diet amends the commercial code, giving corporations the choice of adopting U.S.-style corporate practices such as independent audit and compensation committees.