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NEW YORK CITY-Weeks after shareholders took Insignia Financial chief Andrew L. Farkas and the executive committee to task for certain compensation practices, the firm has filed corporate governance changes with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The filing was made on Wednesday, the date specified by the newly signed Sarbanes-Oxley Act as D-day for CEOs to guarantee the veracity of their financial statements. The filing came complete with that certification.

More to the point were a list of some 11 initiatives in the area of corporate governance, many if which are a direct response to specific charges made during the firm’s regular shareholder conference call. These included compensations for Farkas’ boat and airplane, political contributions and loans made to executives at below the cost of financing. Certain investments made by members of the executive committee in Insignia initiatives were also questioned during the call.

“We heard the shareholders and we listened to them,” an Insignia Financial spokesperson tells GlobeSt.com. “If we can accommodate their concerns where practical and within reason, we are going to do that.” He added that reviews of corporate governance were a constant process prior to the conference call and will continue to be so, making it clear that the changes were not based solely in the conference call conversation.

In its filing, Insignia stated that “the company would no longer reimburse the chief executive officer [Farkas] for any company usage of the boat. There have been no payments by the company for use of the boat in 2002.”

Ditto the Farkas airplane. “With respect to the company’s payment for use of a fractional interest in an aircraft owned by the chief executive officer and net leased by the company, such lease and usage will terminate permanently no later than Sept. 30, 2002.”

In terms of executive loans, the firm is putting a halt to them according to the filing, along with modifications or extensions “that are beneficial to company executives.” Political contributions going forward will be reviewed in advance of the donation.

The compensation committee has not suggested a final policy concerning executive investments, but committed to the SEC that it is “continuing to review” the issue.

“I’m glad the board is taking these concerns seriously,” states David Einhorn, portfolio manager for Greenlight Capital in Manhattan and one of two shareholders who raised the issues. “It is a step in the right direction, and they are acknowledging that some of these actions were and are inappropriate. Frankly while it’s good that they are considering further actions, it seems to me that if previous payments were inappropriate, they should be refunded.”

“Insignia has no comment at this time,” said the spokesperson.

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