Following the recent spate of corporate scandals, government enforcement authorities have increasingly relied upon corporate monitors to help ensure law compliance and reduce the number of future violations. These monitors also permit enforcement authorities, such as the Securities & Exchange Commission and others, to leverage their enforcement resources in overseeing corporate behavior. However, there are few descriptive or normative analyses of the role and scope of corporate monitors. This paper provides such an analysis. After sketching out the historical development of corporate monitors, the paper examines the most common features of the current set of monitor appointments supplemented by interviews with monitors. This is followed by a normative analysis that examines when it is desirable to appoint monitors and what powers and obligations they should have. Based on this analysis, we provide a number of recommendations for enhancing the potential of corporate monitors to serve a useful deterrent and law enforcement function without being unduly burdensome on corporations. This involves, among other things, discussion of the kinds of powers monitors should have and the fiduciary duties monitors should owe to the shareholders whose businesses they are monitoring.
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