SEC Issues Conflict Minerals Reporting Guidance; Petitioners File for Stay

Following U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Mary Jo White’s April 29, 2014 statement to members of the House Financial Services Committee that the agency will continue to implement the conflict minerals rule upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals, the SEC published staff guidance to companies on meeting the May 31 reporting deadline.

The guidance is in a statement from SEC Division of Corporation Finance Director Keith Higgins. Higgins said companies should comply with parts of the rule that the court upheld and file initial reports by June 2 (reports will be due on June 2, 2014 as the May 31 deadline falls on a Saturday). Higgins said companies will not be required to describe products as “not been found to be DRC conflict free” but companies will still have to disclose the origin of conflict minerals in their products.

Yesterday, industry petitioners in the conflict minerals case filed a Motion for a Stay with the SEC.  If the SEC denies the stay, the petitioners will consider filing a stay request with the D.C. Circuit.

On April 14, 2014, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the requirement that companies report whether their products have “not been found to be DRC conflict free,” included in the SEC conflict minerals regulation, violates the First Amendment.


Clarification on April 29 blog posting:

Attorneys from Sidley Austin, who represent industry petitioners in the suit, have provided the following correction regarding the role of the courts: “If there is no stay and the case is remanded to the district court, that court may simply remand to the SEC to implement the DC Circuit’s decision in the first instance.”


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