Membership and Appointment. The Committee shall consist of at least three members of the Board, with the exact number being determined by the Board. The members of the Committee shall be appointed. The members of the Committee shall serve for such term or terms as the Board may determine or until earlier resignation or death. The Board may remove any members from the Committee at any time with or without cause.
Independence and Qualifications. Each member of the Committee shall meet the independence and experience requirements of the applicable provisions of federal law, the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder and the applicable rules of The NASDAQ Stock Market, provided that the exemptions from the independence requirements set forth in such rules and regulations shall also be applicable to members of the Committee. No member of the Committee can have participated in the preparation of the Company’s or any of its subsidiaries’ financial statements at any time during the past three years.
Each member of the Committee must be able to read and understand fundamental financial statements, including the Company’s balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. At least one member of the Committee must have past employment experience in finance or accounting, requisite professional certification in accounting or other comparable experience or background that leads to financial sophistication. At least one member of the Committee must be an “audit committee financial expert” as defined in Item 407(d)(5)(ii) of Regulation S-K. A person who satisfies this definition of audit committee financial expert will also be presumed to have financial sophistication.
Resources. The Committee shall have the authority, in its sole discretion, to retain and obtain the advice and assistance of independent outside counsel and such other advisors as it deems necessary to fulfill its duties and responsibilities under this Charter. The Committee shall set the compensation, and oversee the work, of any outside counsel and other advisors. The Committee shall receive appropriate funding from the Company, as determined by the Committee in its capacity as a committee of the Board, for the payment of compensation to the Company’s independent auditors, any other accounting firm engaged to perform services for the Company, any outside counsel and any other advisors to the Committee and any other ordinary administrative expenses of the Committee. The Committee may request any officer or employee of the Company or the Company’s outside counsel or independent auditors to attend a meeting of the Committee or to meet with any members of, or consultants to, the Committee, and shall have full access to all books, records, facilities and personnel of the Company in connection with the discharge of its responsibilities.
Structure and Operations. The Board shall designate a member of the Committee as the chairperson. The Committee shall meet at least four times a year at such times and places as it deems necessary to fulfill its responsibilities. The Committee shall report regularly to the Board on its discussions and actions, including any significant issues or concerns that arise at its meetings, and shall make recommendations to the Board as appropriate. The Committee is governed by the same rules regarding meetings (including meetings in person or by telephone or other similar communications equipment), action without meetings, notice, waiver of notice, and quorum and voting requirements as are applicable to the Board.
Evaluation. The Committee shall review and reassess the adequacy of this Charter annually and recommend any proposed changes to the Board.
Delegation of Authority. The Committee shall have the authority to delegate any of its responsibilities, along with the authority to take action in relation to such responsibilities, to one or more subcommittees as the Committee may deem appropriate in its sole discretion.
The Committee shall have the following authority and responsibilities:
(i) To (1) select and retain an independent registered public accounting firm to act as the Company’s independent auditors for the purpose of auditing the Company’s annual financial statements, books, records, accounts and internal controls over financial reporting, subject to ratification by the Company’s stockholders of the selection of the independent auditors, (2) set the compensation of the Company’s independent auditors, (3) oversee the work done by the Company’s independent auditors and (4) terminate the Company’s independent auditors, if necessary.
(ii) To select, retain, compensate, oversee and terminate, if necessary, any other registered public accounting firm engaged for the purpose of preparing or issuing an audit report or performing other audit, review or attest services for the Company.
(iii) To pre-approve all audit and permitted non-audit and tax services that may be provided by the Company’s independent auditors or other registered public accounting firms, and establish policies and procedures for the Committee’s pre-approval of permitted services by the Company’s independent auditors or other registered public accounting firms on an on-going basis.
(iv) At least annually, to obtain and review a report by the Company’s independent auditors that describes (1) the accounting firm’s internal quality control procedures, (2) any issues raised by the most recent internal quality control review, peer review or Public Company Accounting Oversight Board review or inspection of the firm or by any other inquiry or investigation by governmental or professional authorities in the past five years regarding one or more audits carried out by the firm and any steps taken to deal with any such issues, and (3) all relationships between the firm and the Company or any of its subsidiaries; and to discuss with the independent auditors this report and any relationships or services that may impact the objectivity and independence of the auditors.
(v) At least annually, to evaluate the qualifications, performance and independence of the Company’s independent auditors, including an evaluation of the lead audit partner; and to assure the regular rotation of the lead audit partner at the Company’s independent auditors and consider regular rotation of the accounting firm serving as the Company’s independent auditors.
(vi) To review and discuss with the Company’s independent auditors: (1) the auditors’ responsibilities under generally accepted auditing standards and the responsibilities of management in the audit process, (2) the overall audit strategy, (3) the scope and timing of the annual audit, (4) any significant risks identified during the auditors’ risk assessment procedures and (5) when completed, the results, including significant findings, of the annual audit.
(vii) To review and discuss with the Company’s independent auditors: (1) all critical accounting policies and practices to be used in the audit; (2) all alternative treatments of financial information within generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) that have been discussed with management, the ramifications of the use of such alternative treatments and the treatment preferred by the auditors; and (3) other material written communications between the auditors and management.
(viii) To review and discuss with the Company’s independent auditors and management: (1) any audit problems or difficulties, including difficulties encountered by the Company’s independent auditors during their audit work (such as restrictions on the scope of their activities or their access to information), (2) any significant disagreements with management and (3) management’s response to these problems, difficulties or disagreements; and to resolve any disagreements between the Company’s auditors and management.
(ix) To review with management and the Company’s independent auditors: (1) any major issues regarding accounting principles and financial statement presentation, including any significant changes in the Company’s selection or application of accounting principles, (2) any significant financial reporting issues and judgments made in connection with the preparation of the Company’s financial statements, including the effects of alternative GAAP methods, (3) and the effect of regulatory and accounting initiatives and off-balance sheet structures on the Company’s financial statements.
(x) To keep the Company’s independent auditors informed of the Committee’s understanding of the Company’s relationships and transactions with related parties that are significant to the Company; and to review and discuss with the Company’s independent auditors the auditors’ evaluation of the Company’s identification of, accounting for, and disclosure of its relationships and transactions with related parties, including any significant matters arising from the audit regarding the Company’s relationships and transactions with related parties.
(xi) To review with management and the Company’s independent auditors the adequacy and effectiveness of the Company’s financial reporting processes, internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures, including any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in the design or operation of, and any material changes in, the Company’s processes, controls and procedures and any special audit steps adopted in light of any material control deficiencies, and any fraud involving management or other employees with a significant role in such processes, controls and procedures, and review and discuss with management and the Company’s independent auditors disclosure relating to the Company’s financial reporting processes, internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures, the independent auditors’ report on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting and the required management certifications to be included in or attached as exhibits to the Company’s annual report on Form 10-K or quarterly report on Form 10-Q, as applicable.
(xii) To review and discuss with the Company’s independent auditors any other matters required to be discussed by PCAOB Auditing Standards No, 16, Communications with Audit Committees.
(xiii) To recommend to the Board that the audited financial statements be included in the Company’s Form 10-K and produce the audit committee report required to be included in the Company’s proxy statement.
(xiv) To establish and oversee procedures for the receipt, retention and treatment of complaints received by the Company regarding accounting, internal accounting controls or auditing matters and the confidential, anonymous submission by Company employees of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.
(xv) To monitor compliance with the Company’s Code of Ethics (the “Code”), to investigate any alleged breach or violation of the Code, and to enforce the provisions of the Code.
(xvi) To review, approve and oversee any transaction between the Company and any related person (as defined in Item 404 of Regulation S-K) and any other potential conflict of interest situations on an ongoing basis, in accordance with Company policies and procedures.