Audit Committee Charter
CHARTER OF THE AUDIT COMMITTEE
The purpose of the Audit Committee (the "Committee") is to represent and assist the Board of Directors (the "Board") in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities of the company's accounting and financial reporting processes, audits of the financial statements, internal control and audit functions, and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and ethical standards adopted by the company. The Audit Committee members are not professional accountants or auditors and the Committee's function is one of oversight only. The Committee shall not relieve the Company's management of its responsibilities for preparing financial statements which accurately and fairly present the Company's financial results and condition, or the responsibilities of the independent accountants relating to the audit or review of financial statements.
The Committee will consist of three or more directors determined by the Board of Directors, each of whom will be independent as required by Section 10A(m) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act"), any rules and regulations promulgated thereunder by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), and the rules of The Nasdaq Stock Market ("Nasdaq"). No member of the Committee shall have participated in the preparation of the financial statements of the Company or any current subsidiary of the Company at any time during the preceding three years. Each appointed Committee member shall be subject to annual reconfirmation and may be removed by the Board at any time.
All members of the Committee shall be able to read and understand fundamental financial statements, including a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. At least one member of the Committee shall have past employment experience in finance or accounting, requisite professional certification in accounting, or any other comparable experience or background which results in the individual's financial sophistication, including being or having been a chief executive officer, chief financial officer or other senior officer with financial oversight responsibilities.
To fulfill its responsibilities and duties, the Committee shall:
1. Review annually the Committee Charter for adequacy and recommend any changes to the Board.
2. Review the significant accounting principles, policies and practices followed by the Company in accounting for and reporting its financial results of operations in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP").
3. Review the financial and risk management policies followed by the Company in operating its business activities.
4. Review the Company's annual audited financial statements, related disclosures, including the MD&A portion of the Company's filings, and discuss with the independent accountants the matters required to be discussed by the auditing standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board ("PCAOB"), including (a) the quality as well as acceptability of the accounting principles applied in the financial statements, and (b) new or changed accounting policies; significant estimates, judgments, uncertainties or unusual transactions; and accounting policies relating to significant financial statement items.
5. Review any management letters or internal control reports prepared by the independent accountants or the Company's internal auditors and responses to prior management letters, and review with the independent accountants the Company's internal financial controls, including the budget, staffing and responsibilities of the Company's Governance, Risk and Controls department.
6. Review the effectiveness of the independent audit effort, including approval of the scope of, and fees charged in connection with, the annual audit, quarterly reviews and any non-audit services being provided.
7. Be directly responsible for the appointment, determination of the compensation for, retention and oversight of the work of the independent accountant employed to conduct the audit (including resolution of disagreements between the independent accountants and management regarding financial reporting) or other audit, review or attest services. The independent accountants shall report directly to the Committee.
8. Pre-approve all audit services and permissible non-audit services by the independent accountants, as set forth in Section 10A of the Exchange Act and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder by the SEC. The Committee may establish pre-approval policies and procedures, as permitted by Section 10A of the Exchange Act and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder by the SEC, for the engagement of independent accountants to render services to the Company, including but not limited to policies that would allow the delegation of pre-approval authority to one or more members of the Committee, provided that any pre-approvals delegated to one or more members of the Committee are reported to the Committee at its next scheduled meeting.
9. Review the hiring policies for any employees or former employees of the independent accountants.
10. Obtain on an annual basis from the independent accountants the written disclosures and the letter required by the applicable requirements of the PCAOB regarding the independent accountants' communications with the audit committee concerning independence, and review and discuss with the accountants any disclosed relationships or services the accountants have with the Company which may affect the accountants' independence and objectivity. The Committee is responsible for taking, or recommending that the full Board take, appropriate action to oversee the independence of the independent accountants.
11. For each of the first three fiscal quarters and at year end, at a Committee meeting review with management the financial results, the proposed earnings press release and formal guidance which the Company may plan to offer, and review with the independent accountants the results of their review of the interim financial information and audit of the annual financial statements.
12. Review management's analysis of any significant accounting issues, changes, estimates, judgments or unusual items relating to the financial statements and the selection, application and effects of critical accounting policies applied by the Company (including an analysis of the effect of alternative GAAP methods) and review with the independent accountants the reports on such subjects delivered pursuant to Section 10A(k) of the Exchange Act and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder by the SEC.
13. Following completion of the annual audit, review separately with the independent accountants, the Governance, Risk and Controls department, and management any significant difficulties encountered during the course of the audit.
14. Review, at least annually, with the Governance, Risk and Controls department and the Compliance Office the responsibilities and activities of those departments.
15. Engage and determine funding for such independent professional advisers and counsel as the Committee determines are appropriate to carry out its functions hereunder. The Company shall provide appropriate funding to the Committee, as determined by the Committee, for payment of (1) compensation to the independent accountants for services approved by the Committee, (2) compensation to any outside advisers retained by the Committee, and (3) ordinary administrative expenses of the Committee that are necessary or appropriate in carrying out its duties.
16. Report to the Board on a regular basis on the major events covered by the Committee and make recommendations to the Board and management concerning these matters.
17. Perform any other activities consistent with this charter, the Company's Bylaws and governing law as the Committee or the Board deems necessary or appropriate, including but not limited to the Company's legal and regulatory compliance.
18. Conduct appropriate review and oversight of related party transactions, as defined by applicable rules of Nasdaq, to which the Company is a party.
19. Establish procedures for:
a. the receipt, retention, and treatment of complaints received by the Company regarding accounting, internal accounting controls, or auditing matters, and
b. the confidential, anonymous submission by employees of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.