AUDIT COMMITTEE CHARTER
The Audit Committee is appointed by the Board to assist the Board in the oversight of (1) the integrity of the financial statements of the Company, (2) the independent auditor’s qualifications and independence, (3) the performance of the Company’s internal audit function and the independent auditors, and (4) the compliance by the Company with legal and regulatory requirements.
The Audit Committee shall prepare the report required by the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) to be included in the Company’s annual proxy statement.
The Audit Committee shall consist of three or more non-employee members of the Board. All Audit Committee members shall be financially literate, and at least one member shall be a “financial expert,” as defined by SEC regulations.
Although not currently required to meet the independence requirements of stock exchange listing standards, the Board aspires for all members of the Audit Committee to be as independent as possible.
The members of the Audit Committee shall be appointed by the Board on the recommendation of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. Members shall serve at the pleasure of the Board and for such term or terms as the Board may determine.
The Board of Directors shall designate one member of the Audit Committee as its Chairperson. In an event of a tie vote on any issue, the Chairperson’s vote shall decide the issue. The Audit Committee shall meet as often as it determines, but not less frequently than quarterly. Meetings will be held at the convenience of the members, but, preferably, in advance of meetings of the Board of Directors. Minutes of each meeting shall be kept.
While the Audit Committee has the responsibilities and powers set forth in this charter, the function of the Audit Committee is oversight. It is the duty of management, not the Audit Committee, to determine that the Company’s financial statements are complete and accurate and are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and to determine the effectiveness of internal controls over financial reporting. Management is responsible for the preparation, presentation and integrity of the Company’s financial statements and for the appropriateness of the accounting principles and reporting policies that are used by the Company. The independent auditors are responsible for auditing the Company’s financial statements and for reviewing the Company’s unaudited interim financial statements.
The Audit Committee, in carrying out its responsibilities, believes its policies and procedures should remain flexible, in order to best react to changing conditions and circumstances. The Audit Committee should take appropriate actions to set the overall corporate “tone” for quality financial reporting, sound business risk practices, and ethical behavior. The following shall be the principal duties and responsibilities of the Audit Committee. These are set forth as a guide with the understanding that the committee may supplement them as appropriate.
The Audit Committee shall have the sole authority to appoint or replace the independent auditor (subject, if applicable, to shareholder ratification), and shall approve all audit engagements and the fees and terms thereof and all non-audit engagements with the independent auditors, subject to de minimus
exceptions for non-audit services described in Section 10A(i)(1)(B) of the Exchange Act that are approved by the Audit Committee prior to the completion of the audit. The Audit Committee may consult with management but shall not delegate these responsibilities to management. The independent auditor shall report directly to the Audit Committee.
The Audit Committee shall be directly responsible for the compensation and oversight of the work of the independent auditor (including resolution of disagreements between management and the independent auditor regarding financial reporting) for the purpose of preparing or issuing an audit report or related work.
The Audit Committee may delegate the authority to approve audit and permitted non-audit engagements with the independent auditors to a member of the Audit Committee. If any such authority is delegated, any decisions to pre-approve any activity shall be presented to the full Audit Committee at its next meeting.
The Audit Committee may form and delegate authority to subcommittees when appropriate.
The Audit Committee shall have the authority, to the extent it deems necessary or appropriate, to retain independent legal, accounting or other advisors. The Company shall provide for appropriate funding, as determined by the Audit Committee, for payment of compensation to the independent auditor for the purpose of rendering or issuing an audit report and to any advisors employed by the Audit Committee. 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 meet with management, the internal auditors and the independent auditor in separate executive sessions at least annually. The Audit Committee may also, to the extent it deems necessary or appropriate, meet with the Company’s investment bankers or with financial analysts who follow the Company.
The Audit Committee shall make regular reports to the Board with respect to its activities, including any issues that arise with respect to the quality or integrity of the Company’s financial statements, the Company’s compliance with legal or regulatory requirements, the performance and independence of the Company’s independent auditors or the performance of the internal audit function. The Audit Committee shall review and reassess the adequacy of this Charter annually and recommend any proposed changes to the Board for approval.
The Audit Committee shall produce and provide to the Board of Directors an annual performance evaluation of the Committee, which evaluation shall compare the performance of the Audit Committee with the requirements of this Charter. The performance evaluation shall also recommend to the Board of Directors any improvements to the Audit Committee’s Charter deemed necessary or desirable by the Audit Committee. The performance evaluation by the Audit Committee shall be conducted in such manner as the Committee deems appropriate. The report to the Board of Directors may take the form of an oral report by the Chairperson of the Audit Committee or any other member of the Audit Committee designated by the Committee to make this report.
The Audit Committee, to the extent it deems necessary or appropriate, shall:
1. Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor the annual audited financial statements, including specific disclosures made in management’s discussion and analysis, and recommend to the Board whether the audited financial statements should be included in the Company’s Form 10-K.
2. Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor the Company’s Form 10-Q, including the quarterly financial statements, prior to the filing of its Form 10-Q, including the results of the independent auditor’s reviews of the quarterly financial statements.
3. Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor (a) 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 Company’s financial statements, including the development, selection and disclosure of critical accounting estimates and analyses of the effects of alternative GAAP methods on the financial statements, and (b) major issues regarding accounting principles and financial statement presentations, including any significant changes in the Company’s selection or application of accounting principles, and any major issues as to the adequacy of the Company’s internal controls and any special steps adopted in light of material control deficiencies.
4. Review and discuss quarterly reports from the independent auditors on:
(a) All critical accounting policies and practices to be used.
(b) All alternative treatments of financial information within generally accepted accounting principles that have been discussed with management, ramifications of the use of such alternative disclosures and treatments, and the treatment preferred by the independent auditor.
5. Discuss with management the Company’s earnings press releases, prior to their issuance, including the use of “pro forma” or “adjusted” non-GAAP information, as well as financial information and earnings guidance provided to analysts and rating agencies. Such discussion may be done generally (consisting of discussing the types of information to be disclosed and the types of presentations to be made).
6. Discuss with management and the independent auditor the effect of regulatory and accounting initiatives as well as off-balance sheet structures on the Company’s financial statements.
7. Discuss with management the Company’s major financial risk exposures and the steps management has taken to monitor and control such exposures, including the Company’s risk assessment and risk management policies.
8. Discuss with the independent auditor the matters required to be discussed by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 61 relating to the conduct of the audit. In particular, discuss:
(a) The adoption of, or changes to, the Company’s significant auditing and accounting principles and practices as suggested by the independent auditor, internal auditors or management.
(b) The management letter provided by the independent auditor and the Company’s response to that letter, as well as other material written communications between the independent auditor and management, such as any schedule of unadjusted differences.
(c) Any difficulties encountered in the course of the audit work, including any restrictions on the scope of activities or access to requested information, and any significant disagreements with management.
9. Review disclosures made to the Audit Committee by the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer during their certification process for the Form 10-K and Form 10-Q about any significant deficiencies in the design or operation of internal controls or material weaknesses therein and any fraud involving management or other employees who have a significant role in the Company’s internal controls.
10. Review the experience and qualifications of the senior members of the independent auditor team.
11. Obtain and review a report from the independent auditor at least annually regarding (a) the independent auditor’s internal quality-control procedures, (b) any material issues raised by the most recent internal quality-control review, or peer review, of the firm, or by any inquiry or investigation by governmental or professional authorities, including the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, 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, (d) the fees billed in each of the last two fiscal years for each reportable category of services rendered, and (e) all relationships between the independent auditor and the Company. Evaluate the qualifications, performance and independence of the independent auditor, including reviewing and evaluating the lead audit partner of the independent auditor and considering whether the auditor’s quality controls are adequate and the provision of permitted non-audit services is compatible with maintaining the auditor’s independence, and taking into account the opinions of management and the internal auditor. The Audit Committee shall present its conclusions with respect to the independent auditor to the Board and, if so determined by the Audit Committee, recommend that the Board take additional action to satisfy itself of the qualifications, performance and independence of the auditor.
12. Ensure the rotation of the audit partners of the independent auditor as required by law. Consider whether, in order to assure continuing auditor independence, it is appropriate to adopt a policy of rotating the independent auditing firm on a regular basis.
13. Recommend to the Board policies for the Company’s hiring of employees or former employees of the independent auditor who participated in any capacity in the audit of the Company.
14. Discuss with the national office of the independent auditor issues on which they were consulted by the Company’s audit team and matters of audit quality and consistency.
15. Meet with the independent auditor prior to the audit to discuss the planning and staffing of the audit.
16. Review the appointment and replacement of the senior internal auditing executive.
17. Review the significant reports to management prepared by the internal auditing department and management’s responses.
18. Discuss with the independent auditor and management the internal audit department responsibilities, budget and staffing and any recommended changes in the planned scope of the internal audit.
19. As applicable, receive from the independent auditor any required reports related to Section 10A(b) and Rule 13b2-2(b) under the Exchange Act.
20. Receive reports from management, including the Company’s senior internal auditing executive, concerning the Company’s and its subsidiaries’ and foreign affiliated entities’ conformity with the Company’s Code of Business Conduct and Business Principles and applicable legal requirements. Review reports and disclosures of insider and affiliated party transactions. Advise the Board with respect to the Company’s policies and procedures regarding compliance with the Company’s Code of Business Conduct and Business Principles and applicable laws and regulations.
21. Establish procedures for the receipt, retention, and treatment of complaints received by the Company regarding accounting, internal accounting controls, auditing matters, or certain other corporate governance matters related to concerns raised about the Company’s legal affairs, environmental issues or human resource practices. Employees will be provided a confidential, anonymous system for raising such
concerns with the Audit Committee, and when appropriate, such complaints will be reviewed with the Board of Directors.
22. Discuss with management and the independent auditor any correspondence with regulators or governmental agencies and any employee complaints or published reports that raise material issues regarding the Company’s financial statements or accounting policies.
23. Discuss with the Company’s General Counsel legal matters that may have a material impact on the financial statements or the Company’s compliance policies.