Certified Foreign Language Translation and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

Foreign language translation plays an important part in the internal and external investigations and in litigation under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was passed to combat incidences of white collar crime, particularly in the realm of corporate accounting. One of the main components that came out of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was protection for whistleblowers and safe ways for them to report fraudulent actions.

Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, various protections for whistleblowers were put into place, including the use of hotlines and other means of anonymous reporting of white collar crime. However, since potential whistleblowers often don’t speak English as a first language, these anonymous reporting systems must use foreign language translators.

The use of foreign language translations with anonymous reporting systems opens up the potential for legal problems during any white collar crime litigation. For instance, if a foreign language-speaking employee’s original complaint is used as evidence, the person who did the foreign language translation must be qualified to provide the foreign language translation. Yet, because many incidences of white collar crime are reported via a “hotline”, the person making the translation, or the foreign-language telephonic interpreting may not be properly certified as a foreign language translator – let alone be available as a witness when needed.

Clearly, without an accurate certified foreign language translation of a complaint, a potential loophole exists to the purpose of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

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