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A letter from Jeannie T. Austin in the March 27 Empire suggested the need for an external audit of Sealaska Corp. Notwithstanding the fact that Ms. Austin is not a Sealaska shareholder, I am pleased to report that Sealaska's financial statements are audited every year by independent auditors who ensure that an accurate picture is presented to shareholders. This is an external audit.
Our independent auditors are PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LLC, a large, well-known international accounting firm. Independent audits must stake their reputation on the independence and validity of a company's audited financial statements each year. It's not well-known to shareholders, but even the key Sealaska officers must annually sign representation letters to the auditors that the financial statements are accurate, fairly presented and that there are no material omissions. There is a very lengthy and formal process at Sealaska each year, ending with a close review by the Audit Committee, to assure that the independent audit is accurate and fairly presented.
In the Enron situation, it's easy to see the drastic negative financial penalties an auditing firm faces when there is a claim of violation their obligation to independently and accurately report the financial statements of a company. You can be sure that PriceWaterhouseCoopers is extremely aware of their obligations.
Sealaska just completed a round of community meetings attended by over 867 shareholders. In that forum, we presented information to shareholders on our new strategic direction, our current investments, our permanent fund, a forecasted financial report, and our continued support of cultural programs and advocacy for important Native issues like subsistence. Sealaska Board members, officers and staff had excellent discussions with our shareholders.
Shareholders said at these meetings that Sealaska needs to continue to keep down costs, and continue its short-term strategic plan to improve the financial performance of the company.
Chris E. McNeil, Jr.
President and CEO