Bob: The obstruction of justice reference is to the section that was added
under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which went into effect July 30, 2002. I
participated in legal seminar several weeks ago and this topic was discussed
at length. The general consensus from the panel of attorneys at this
conference was that there is still a need for records retention policies and
if the policy is reasonable and properly administrated, then the company
should feel comfortable with the destruction of records. I think some
attorney's are taking an overly broad view of this provision because there
is no precedence yet on exactly how it will be interpreted. There may be
need to review the retention schedules and perhaps adjust some of the
retention periods, but overall, if the program is sound, with all the legal
research and business justifications documented, and the destruction is
conducted in the regular course of business and there is a method for
halting destruction in the instances where that is required, then I would
not advise a company to retain all information forever - it is not good
To review the language of the obstruction of justice section, look at
Section 802 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Criminal Penalties for Altering
Documents, Sec. 1519 and 1520.
This is one of the items that will be discussed in the webinar that is being
presented next week by ARMA.
Rae Cogar, Esq.
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