Tag Archives: SEC Division of Corporation Finance

Letter from six senators challenges authority of Acting SEC Chair on conflict minerals no-action position

by Cydney Posner

It’s not only the NGOs that have expressed their dismay at the no-action position taken by Corp Fin and Acting SEC Chair Michael Piwowar with regard to compliance by companies with the conflict minerals rule. In this April 26 letter, six U.S. Senators express their doubt about the “legal basis” for the Acting Chair’s “unilateral move” to halt enforcement of the rule. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Governance

GAO issues annual report showing only slight progress in disclosures on conflict minerals

by Cydney Posner

The GAO has recently issued its third annual report on conflict minerals. The GAO is required by Dodd-Frank to report annually on the effectiveness of the SEC’s conflict minerals rule in promoting peace and security in the DRC and adjoining countries  (the “covered countries”) as well as on the rate of sexual violence in war-torn areas of the covered countries. (To read about last year’s report, see this PubCo post.) One sentence in the report says it all: “Our review of companies’ conflict minerals disclosures filed with SEC in 2016 found that, in general, they were similar to disclosures filed in prior years.” In light of the provision in the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 that would repeal the Dodd-Frank conflict minerals mandate, you have to wonder if this will be the GAO’s last report on the topic?  (See this PubCo post.) Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Governance, Securities

Senate hearing on conflict minerals law reveals common theme

by Cydney Posner

On April 5, just prior to the release of  Corp Fin’s Updated Statement on conflict minerals, the Senate Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy held a hearing on the effects on the Democratic Republic of the Congo of Section 1502 of Dodd-Frank and the SEC’s related conflict minerals rule, examining the approach taken in the rule and its achievements.  The hearing comes as Congress considers whether and how to revise Section 1502.  While the witnesses were divided in their views of the value of Section 1502, surprisingly, there was something of a common theme — that the illicit trade in conflict minerals is more a symptom of the problem in the DRC region, not at the root, and that addressing the trade issue alone will not suffice.  Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Governance, Securities

Responses to Corp Fin’s Updated Statement on Conflict Minerals

by Cydney Posner

A number of NGOs have issued statements emphatically rejecting Corp Fin’s  Updated Statement on the Effect of the Court of Appeals Decision on the Conflict Minerals Rule and the Acting Chair’s separate Statement on conflict minerals (see this PubCo post) and calling for companies to disregard them and file their conflict minerals reports as usual. How will companies respond? Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Governance, Securities

Corp Fin provides relief on conflict minerals in light of final judgment in National Association of Manufacturers v. SEC

by Cydney Posner

Today, in light of the entry of final judgment by the D.C. District Court in National Association of Manufacturers v. SEC, Corp Fin issued an Updated Statement on the Effect of the Court of Appeals Decision on the Conflict Minerals Rule that provides substantial relief to companies subject to the rule. You may recall that, in that case, the Court held that a part of the conflict minerals rule violated the First Amendment. Corp Fin’s Updated Statement advises that companies will not face enforcement if they perform only a reasonable country-of-origin inquiry and file only a Form SD and do not conduct detailed supply-chain due diligence or prepare and file a conflict minerals report (Item 1.01(c) of Form SD) or have an audit performed — even if they would otherwise be required to do so under the rule. In a separate Statement, Acting SEC Chair Michael Piwowar commented that the “primary function of the extensive and costly requirements for due diligence on the source and chain of custody of conflict minerals set forth in paragraph (c) of Item 1.01 of Form SD is to enable companies to make the disclosure found to be unconstitutional. In light of the foregoing regulatory uncertainties, until these issues are resolved, it is difficult to conceive of a circumstance that would counsel in favor of enforcing Item 1.01(c) of Form SD.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Governance, Securities

More opposition to the virtual-only annual meeting

by Cydney Posner

In case you missed it, Gretchen Morgenson’s column in the Sunday NYT railed against virtual-only annual meetings, which according to her data (provided by Broadridge), have increased in number from 21 in 2011 to 154 in 2016.  And joining in the condemnation of the practice was NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, who, you may recall, submitted 75 shareholder proposals for proxy access at major companies in 2014, triggering the movement toward wider adoption of proxy access bylaws.  Interestingly, the virtual annual meeting was initially viewed as “CPR” for the debilitated annual shareholders’ meeting, which had, over time, evolved into a moribund ritual of corporate governance, as fewer and fewer shareholders were able or willing to overcome the logistical and financial burdens of attendance in person. With virtual technology, large numbers of shareholders were suddenly able to attend meetings on their laptops. Ironically, however, it is shareholders — the designated beneficiaries of the virtual annual meeting — that have raised objections. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Governance, Securities

Final judgment entered in conflict minerals case, National Association of Manufacturers v. SEC

by Cydney Posner

Today, the D.C. District Court entered final judgment in National Association of Manufacturers v. SEC, holding that Section 1502 of Dodd-Frank and Rule 13p-1 and Form SD, Conflict Minerals, violate the First Amendment to the extent that the statute and the rule require regulated entities to report to the SEC and to state on their websites that any of their products “have not been found to be ‘DRC conflict free.’”  In addition, pursuant to the APA, the Court held the rule unlawful and set it aside but only to the extent that it requires regulated entities to report to the SEC and to state on their websites that any of their products “have not been found to be ‘DRC conflict free.’” (For background on the case, see this PubCo post.) Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Governance, Securities