The Audit Committee of the Board of Directors assists the Board of Directors in fulfilling its responsibility for oversight of the quality and integrity of the accounting, auditing, and reporting practices of the Company, and such other duties as directed by the Board. The Committee’s purpose is to oversee the accounting and financial reporting processes of the Company, the audits of the Company’s financial statements, the qualifications of the public accounting firm engaged as the Company’s independent auditor to prepare or issue an audit report on the financial statements of the Company, and the performance of the Company’s internal and independent auditors. The Committee’s role includes a particular focus on the qualitative aspects of financial reporting to shareholders, the Company’s processes to manage business and financial risk, and compliance with significant applicable legal, ethical, and regulatory requirements. The Committee is directly responsible for the appointment, compensation, retention and oversight of the independent auditor.
The membership of the Committee consists of at least two directors, all of whom shall meet the independence requirements established by the Board and applicable laws, regulations and listing requirements. Each member shall in the judgment of the Board have the ability to read and understand fundamental financial statements. The Company shall attempt whenever is becomes practical in light of the financial resources of the Company, to insure that at least one member of the Committee shall in the judgment of the Board be an “audit committee financial expert” as defined by the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and at least one member (who may also serve as the audit committee financial expert) shall in the judgment of the Board meet the financial sophistication standard as defined by the requirements of the applicable regulations imposed on the Company. The Board appoints the members of the Committee and the chairperson. The Board may remove any member from the Committee at any time with or without cause.
Generally, no member of the Committee may serve on more than three audit committees of publicly traded companies (including the Audit Committee of the Company) at the same time. For this purpose, service on the audit committees of a parent and its substantially owned subsidiaries counts as service on a single audit committee.
The Committee meets at least four times a year. Additional meetings may occur as the Committee or its chair deems advisable. The Committee will cause to be kept adequate minutes of all its proceedings, and will report on its actions and activities at the next quarterly meeting of the Board. Committee members will be furnished with copies of the minutes of each meeting and any action taken by unanimous consent. The Committee is governed by the same rules regarding meetings (including meetings by conference telephone or similar communications equipment), action without meetings, notice, waiver of notice, and quorum and voting requirements as are applicable to the Board. The Committee is authorized and empowered to adopt its own rules of procedure not inconsistent with (a) any provision of this Charter, (b) any provision of the Bylaws of the Company, or (c) the laws of the state of Delaware.
The independent auditor reports directly to the Committee. The Committee is expected to maintain free and open communication with the independent auditor, the internal auditors, and management. This communication will include periodic private executive sessions with each of these parties.
The Company is responsible for providing new members with appropriate orientation briefings and educational opportunities, and the full Committee with educational resources related to accounting principles and procedures, current accounting topics pertinent to the Company and other material as may be requested by the Committee. The Company will assist the Committee in maintaining appropriate financial literacy.
The Committee will have the resources and authority necessary to discharge its duties and responsibilities. The Committee has sole authority to retain and terminate outside counsel or other experts or consultants, as it deems appropriate, including sole authority to approve the firms’ fees and other retention terms. The Committee will be provided with appropriate funding by the Company, as the Committee determines, for the payment of compensation to the Company’s independent auditor; outside counsel and other advisors as it deems appropriate, and ordinary administrative expenses of the Committee that are necessary or appropriate in carrying out its duties. In discharging its oversight role, the Committee is empowered to investigate any matter brought to its attention. Any communications between the Committee and legal counsel in the course of obtaining legal advice will be considered privileged communications of the Company, and the Committee will take all necessary steps to preserve the privileged nature of those communications.
The Committee may form and delegate authority to subcommittees and may delegate authority to one or more designated members of the Committee.
The Committee relies on the expertise and knowledge of management, the internal auditors and the independent auditor in carrying out its oversight responsibilities. Management of the Company is responsible for determining the Company’s financial statements are complete, accurate and in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The independent auditor is responsible for auditing the Company’s financial statements. It is not the duty of the Committee to plan or conduct audits, to determine that the financial statements are complete and accurate and in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, to conduct investigations, or to assure compliance with laws and regulations or the Company’s standards of business conduct, codes of ethics, internal policies, procedures and controls.