April 24, 2015 – May 1, 2015
The summaries provided in this Weekly Recap do not necessarily represent the views of Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP and should not be deemed to be endorsements of them. The Recap is intended to be a compilation of articles and events to encourage discussion within the conflict minerals community and to keep our readers updated on the most recent developments.
As Conflict Minerals Reporting Deadline Draws Near, Conflict Minerals Filings Begin Rolling In
As of the publication date of this blog post, we will be less than a month away from the deadline to file your 2014 Form SD and Conflict Minerals Report, if applicable, for reporting year 2014. For those counting, this year’s deadline is Monday, June 1, 2015, since May 31st falls on a Sunday.
Recently, companies have already begun filing their Form SD’s and Conflict Minerals Reports. Just last week, Chico’s FAS, Inc., Viasystems Group, Inc. and Micronet Enertec Technologies, Inc. filed their Form SD’s and Conflict Minerals Reports with the SEC.
We make no comment on these filings and our acknowledgement does not necessarily serve as an endorsement of the filings, but we bring these to your attention as you are presumably in the midst of putting the final touches on your respective conflict minerals filings and may be interested in seeing examples of other filings.
NGOs’ Report Alleges Widespread Failure to Comply with Conflict Minerals Rule, Others Refute Report
In a report titled Digging for Transparency, Global Witness and Amnesty International analyzed 100 conflict minerals reports and claim that almost 80% of companies “failed to meet the minimum requirements of the U.S. conflict minerals law.” Further, the NGO’s stated that “only 16 percent go beyond their direct suppliers to contact, or attempt to contact, the smelters or refiners that process the minerals.”
Elm Sustainability Partners LLC, a provider of conflict minerals advisory services, had this to say about the report, “It is our view that the report and its conclusions take liberties with facts and interpretations of the legal mandate. While Global Witness and Amnesty International may have certain desires for the content of the SEC filings, that does not make for noncompliance with the legal mandates.”
To read more on Elm Sustainability’s analysis of the report, please see its blog post here.
We agree that much of what the NGO’s criticize companies for not doing is not actually required by the Rule, the Instructions to Form SD, or the existing SEC guidance. But, the report is being widely quoted, and companies’ compliance efforts are being mischaracterized. On the other hand, the report gives companies a clear view of what Global Witness, Amnesty International and other NGO’s hope to see in the calendar year 2014 conflict minerals disclosures.
NGOs Update Expectations for Upcoming Conflict Minerals Filings
In September of 2013, Dynda and I highlighted Responsible Sourcing Network’s and the Enough Project’s paper, which detailed certain stakeholders’ expectations about the form and content of a company’s Form SD and Conflict Minerals Report.
Since then, the Responsible Sourcing Network has released additional guidance, including its latest Indicators Shortlist which was published in time for the second round of conflict minerals disclosures. Per Responsible Sourcing Network’s statement accompanying the release of guidance, the NGO stated “this indicator set provides a measurement tool to track and compare activities with a clear and easily replicable methodology that can be used by investors.”
As we did in September 2013, we remind companies in certain industries with active stakeholders that they should look to this paper to anticipate certain stakeholders’ expectations and demands when preparing this round of conflict minerals filings.