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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday ordered corporate executives to file sworn statements, starting in mid-August, that the company's financial reports are true.

SEC chairman Harvey Pitt unveiled the order late Wednesday, after WorldCom Inc. revealed that it had inflated earnings by $3.8 billion since last year, making the company appear profitable when it was not. The SEC sued WorldCom in federal court in New York for fraud and sought to prevent it from destroying any documents or paying lavish bonuses or severance to executives.

Late Thursday, the SEC ordered public companies with revenues of more than $1.2 billion in the past fiscal year to provide sworn oaths from their chief executive and chief financial officer, certifying that reported results are accurate.

CEOs and CFOs must also certify in writing whether the company's financial statement has been reviewed by the firm's audit committee or by independent members of the board.

Sworn statements are due on the first date when the company's quarterly or annual report is due to be filed on or after Aug. 14, the SEC said.

The SEC said the unprecedented action is needed in light of recent ``accounting irregularities at public companies, including some large and seemingly well-regarded companies,'' but didn't identify them by name.

In its notice, the SEC said sworn oaths should provide greater assurance to regulators and investors about corporate financial results. The agency recently proposed requiring executives at all public companies to certify quarterly and annual results, an initiative suggested by President Bush in the wake of the Enron Corp. debacle. The proposal hasn't been put into effect as yet.