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CEOs Blame Rush to File for Accidentally Signing Wrong Names

New York, N.Y. ( — While the SEC and President Bush lauded corporate executives for certifying their financial statements, investor groups poring over the pledges since the Wednesday deadline said they couldn't help but notice that nearly half the CEOs and CFOs did not appear to have signed their own names.

Viacom's certification
   Viacom's certification of financials.

Among the nearly 700 oaths filed so far are those signed by General Motors' CEO "Elvis," energy firm Nucor's "Troilus" and "Cressida," and Merrill Lynch's chief executive "Clifford the Big Red Dog."

"Maybe the executives didn't understand, but the idea was that whoever's signature was on the certification would be personally liable if the company books turned out to be false," said investor advocate Jeremy Toft. "If they don't sign their own names, it kind of defeats the purpose."

"Oh damn," responded AOL Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons, who said he must have "accidentally" signed "Yoda" in his rush to get the forms in.

"Typo," added Citigroup CEO Sanford Weill, who confirmed that no one named "Capt. Jean Luc Picard" actually works for the company. Citigroup CFO "Jane Austen" could not be reached for comment.

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While consumer advocates were skeptical of the signatures, SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt defended the submissions he has seen so far. "I've only looked at a couple of the filings, but I see here that according to WorldCom, it's run by Donald Duck and Sponge Bob. That sounds right to me."

However, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, who co-sponsored the bill requiring the certifications, was livid. "So if, for instance, Amgen's financials turn out to be false, shareholders are supposed to sue Cotton Mather"? he asked. "If that's the case, we'd be better off eliminating the oaths and going back to the old way."

"Will you sign a pledge to that effect?" replied Interpublic Group CEO John "Led Zeppelin" Dooner.


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