This Charter governs the operations of the Audit Committee. The Committee shall review and reassess the Charter at least annually and obtain the approval of the Board of Directors for any changes to the Charter. The Committee shall be appointed by the Board of Directors and shall comprise at least three Directors, each of whom is independent.
Members of the Committee shall be considered independent if they have no relationship that may interfere with the exercise of their independence from the Adviser. To be considered independent, a member may not, other than in his or her capacity as a member of the Board, the Committee or any other committee of the Board, accept any consulting, advisory or other compensatory fee from the Company or the Adviser or any of its affiliates. Additionally, no member shall be an "interested person" of the Company under the Investment Company Act of 1940
All Committee members shall be financially literate, or shall become financially literate within a reasonable period of time after appointment to the Committee. It is expected that, under normal circumstances, the Board will designate at least one qualified member of the Committee as an "audit committee financial expert" under regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). This designation will not reduce the responsibility of the other Committee members, nor will it increase the designee's duties, obligations or liability as compared to his or her duties, obligations and liability as a member of the Committee and of the Board.
If the Board has not designated a Chair of the Committee, the members of the Committee may designate a Chair by majority vote of the full Committee membership. The Committee will hold regular meetings at least twice annually. Special meetings may be called at any time by any member of the Committee or at the request of the Company's independent auditors. The Chair will cause notice of each meeting, together with the agenda and any related materials, to be sent to each member. The presence of a majority of the members will constitute a quorum. The Chair will report the actions taken by the Committee to the Board of Directors and such report shall be included in the minutes of the Board meeting.
Statement of Policy
The Audit Committee shall provide assistance to the Board of Directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibility relating to the Company's financial statements and the financial reporting process, the systems of internal accounting and financial controls, the annual independent audit of the Company's financial statements, and the legal compliance and ethics programs as established by the Adviser and the Board. In so doing, it is the responsibility of the Committee to maintain free and open communication between the Committee, the independent auditors and the Adviser of the Company. In discharging its oversight role, the Committee is empowered to investigate any matter brought to its attention with full access to all books, records, facilities, and personnel of the Company. The Committee may retain special counsel and other experts or consultants at the expense of the Company.
Responsibilities and Processes
The primary responsibility of the Audit Committee is to oversee the Company's financial reporting process on behalf of the Board and report the results of its activities to the Board. The Adviser is responsible for preparing the Company's financial statements, and the independent auditors are responsible for auditing those financial statements on an annual basis. The Committee, in carrying out its responsibilities, believes its policies and procedures should remain flexible in order to best react to changing conditions and circumstances. The Committee should take the appropriate actions to set the overall corporate "tone" for quality financial reporting, sound compliance practices, and ethical behavior.
The following shall be the principal recurring process of the Audit Committee in carrying out its oversight responsibilities. The processes are set forth as a guide with the understanding that the Committee may supplement them as appropriate.
- The Committee shall have a clear understanding with the Adviser and the independent auditors that the independent auditors are ultimately accountable to the Audit Committee and the Board as representatives of the Company's shareholders. The Committee shall have the ultimate authority and responsibility to evaluate and, where appropriate, replace the independent auditors. The Committee shall discuss with the auditors their independence from the Adviser and the Company and the matters included in the written disclosures required by the applicable laws, rules and positions, including those of the Securities and Exchange Commission and accounting oversight boards. Annually, the Committee shall review and recommend to the Board the selection of the Company's independent auditors, subject to shareholders' approval, if required.
- The Committee shall pre-approve all audit and permissible non-audit services that the Committee considers compatible with maintaining the independent auditors' independence. The pre-approval requirement will extend to all non-audit services provided to the Company, the Adviser, and any entity controlling, controlled by, or under common control with the Adviser that provides ongoing services to the Company, if the engagement relates directly to the operations and financial reporting of the Company; provided, however, that an engagement of the Company's independent auditors to perform attest services for the Company, the Adviser or its affiliates required by generally accepted auditing standards to complete the examination of the Company's financial statements (such as an examination conducted in accordance with Statement on Auditing Standards Number 70 issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants), will be deemed pre-approved if: (i) the Company's independent auditors inform the Audit Committee of the engagement, (ii) the Company's independent auditors advise the Audit Committee at least annually that the performance of this engagement will not impair the independent auditor's independence with respect to the Company, and (iii) the Audit Committee receives a copy of the independent auditor's report prepared in connection with such services. The Committee may delegate to one or more Committee members the authority to review and pre-approve audit and permissible non-audit services. Actions taken under any such delegation will be reported to the full Committee at its next meeting.
- The Committee shall discuss with the independent auditors the overall scope and plans for their respective audits, including fees and the adequacy of staffing. Also, the Committee shall discuss with the Adviser and the independent auditors the adequacy and effectiveness of the accounting and financial controls, including the Company's system to monitor and manage business risk and legal and ethical compliance programs. Further, the Committee shall meet separately with the independent auditors, without the Adviser present, to discuss the results of their examinations.
- The Committee shall review with the Adviser the semiannual financial statements prior to the issuance of the Company's Semiannual Report to Shareholders. The Chair of the Committee may represent the entire Committee for the purposes of this review.
- The Committee shall review with the Adviser and the independent auditors the financial statements to be included in the Company's Annual Report to Shareholders, including their judgment about the quality, not just acceptability, of accounting principles, the reasonableness of significant judgments, and the clarity of the disclosures in the financial statements. Also, the Committee shall discuss the results of the annual audit and any other matters required to be communicated to the Committee by the independent auditors under generally accepted auditing standards.
- The Committee shall review reports prepared by the Adviser from time to time concerning compliance with the Company's code of ethics, transactions with affiliates, and operations of the Adviser's trading department. The Committee shall also meet at least annually with the Company's Chief Compliance Officer and review reports prepared from time to time by the Company's Chief Compliance Officer concerning the Company's legal compliance programs.
- The Committee shall review and take any measures it deems appropriate to address any complaints or reports provided to the Company or the Committee related to any Company accounting or auditing matter or any potential violation of law. Also, the Committee shall review and take any measures it deems appropriate to address any complaints or reports provided by employees of the Company's investment adviser or its affiliates concerning any such matters.