Cavuto Trancript: The American Stock Exchange's Chairman on the Enron Mess

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, February 12, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews. 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: My next guest says that this Enron mess is taking a toll on the market's confidence and some kind of action has to be taken now before things get a whole lot worse. Those words come from Sal Sodano. Sal is the man who heads up the American Stock Exchange. Sal, good to have you back. Thanks for coming.


CAVUTO: What do you make of what Joe was saying here just a second ago, that it is going to be tough. There is the blame game going on, and in the meantime, the markets have to endure that?

SODANO: Well, this is really going to be tough for the marketplace, obviously. But I think what people really need to focus on is this is really a question of integrity. And it's really the people who run Enron that just totally lacked integrity, and it's really something that you really just cannot legislate.

I gave a talk yesterday at the National Press Club and I used that term, you can't legislate integrity. And that's, to a large degree, what this is.

CAVUTO: Well, how is it hurting you then, Sal? Obviously, you are feeling the pinch, but how exactly?

SODANO: Well, investors always worry about are proper protections in place? Am I making investments where all the people who should be looking over people's shoulders and going after the bad guys, are they doing their job?

In this situation, if you look at the accountants, clearly the accountants were heavily conflicted. You have a situation where Arthur Andersen acted as the internal auditor. It took very significant consulting fees and also had the job of opining on the financial statements. Obviously, that's right for all kinds of conflict...

CAVUTO: Yes, but if the markets are worried about it, Sal, they have a funny way of showing it. Three out of the last four days, they've been up over 100 points.

SODANO: Well, I think that if you look at the longer term -- you really can't look at just a couple of days in a market to get a good feel for how the market is moving one way or the other.

CAVUTO: So you think this is going to drag on a while and it is going to have an effect?

SODANO: Well, we're happy to see those positive days go on. With upside in the marketplace, obviously, I hope they continue, but I'm very concerned that investors do worry about, as someone called, as people called it, Enronitis. The SEC is taking a good, hard look. I saw the new proposed changes that they have in terms of required disclosures. The SEC needs a little help in terms of support, resources, ability to handle all these issues.

There's a lot on the SEC's plate, but we have the best disclosure systems in the world. We're the most sophisticated accounting and regulatory system in the world.

CAVUTO: Yes, but we had it before, right? So if we still had crooks somehow manage to wiggle away with it, so...

SODANO: Well, you know, I started as an accountant in my career at Pricewaterhouse. And I remember when they taught me in the auditing game, you can detect fraud, but you can't prevent fraud. When there are bad people, bad people will learn how to go around controls and we just have to do the best we can to catch them.

CAVUTO: Sal, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

SODANO: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Sal Sodano, he is the chairman of the American Stock Exchange.

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