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Soros: Accounting Principles Needed

June 30, 2002

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LONDON (AP) _ Financier George Soros said Sunday he believes the recent accounting irregularities at major U.S businesses reflect an American culture that admires success more than moral principle.

``Rules alone are not enough,″ Soros told British Broadcasting Corp. television. ``You need principles.″

The fact that so many irregularities have come to light, he said, raises ``far-reaching issues about the values″ that guide corporate executives.

``There is a culture in the U.S. that success matters, and that’s the only principle that you really have to rely on. So anything goes,″ the 71-year-old billionaire said.

``If you are successful, particularly financially successful, you have admiration, respect and so on,″ he said. ``So there is a lack of what I would call moral principles now.″

``You see it in politics as well,″ he added. ``The politician is supposed to win elections. It doesn’t matter what he says, what he does, as long as he gets elected.″

He added: ``This is a very unsound basis for a society.″

Soros, president of Soros Fund Management in New York, was born in Hungary and emigrated to the United States in 1956.

Asked what should be done about the financial situation, Soros said: ``There have to be changes in the way the figures are presented.″

He said that the United States has a rules-based accounting system, which has led to rules avoidance.

In Europe, he said, the approach was principle-based. Although cases like those in the United States can occur in Europe, he said, ``you wouldn’t have this sort of systemic problem.″

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission already has taken ``the most important step″ to correct the problem, Soros said, by informing company directors they are personally responsible for giving a fair representation of financial affairs ``irrespective of the rules.″

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