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IPC Legal Counsel Outlines SEC Authority to Phase-In Conflict Minerals Regulations Requirements

Jun 29, 2011

IPC - Association Connecting Electronics Industries® recently submitted comments to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding the legal basis for a phase-in of the conflict minerals regulatory requirements. Submitted in early June, the comments were prepared by SEC expert Thomas White of WilmerHale®. The four-page brief, “The Commission’s Statutory Authority to Phase-In its Conflict Minerals Disclosure Rules,” outlines the SEC’s authority to adopt a phase-in approach, both by virtue of the statutory text of Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Commission’s general exemptive power under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The brief also provides a comparison to the phased-in implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

Highlighted within the brief is IPC’s proposal for a three-year phase-in of the rules. IPC’s recommendations are based on the anticipated dates at which on-the-ground tracking systems, such as the ITRI bag-and-tag program, are in place and supplying verifiable conflict-free minerals. In addition, IPC believes the three-year period will give a significant number of smelters the opportunity to be audited and their products validated as “conflict free.” Without the phase-in, a de facto ban of minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and adjacent countries will be the only way to provide certifiably conflict-free minerals as there are no tracking systems in place.

White is a partner in WilmerHale’s Corporate and Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring Practice Groups and is one of the firm’s leading practitioners in the area of corporate governance.  White was recently featured in a Bloomberg News story on implementation of the conflict minerals provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act.

The brief is the latest initiative launched by IPC to advocate on behalf of its members that will be affected by the conflict minerals regulations. In February 2011, IPC conducted an extensive survey of its membership on the anticipated burdens imposed by the regulations.  The study indicates that reporting requirements for conflict minerals would cost the electronic interconnect industry an estimated $279 million in the first year of implementation for due diligence alone, compared to the government’s estimate of $16.5 million.

To view the brief, “The Commission’s Statutory Authority to Phase-In its Conflict Minerals Disclosure Rules,” or to learn about other IPC conflict-minerals initiatives, visit www.ipc.org/minerals. A recent Bloomberg News interview with Tom White has been posted at http://tinyurl.com/Bloomberg-IPC-interview.

 


IPC (www.IPC.org) is a global trade association based in Bannockburn, Ill., dedicated to the competitive excellence and financial success of its 2,900 member companies which represent all facets of the electronics industry, including design, printed board manufacturing, electronics assembly and test. As a member-driven organization and leading source for industry standards, training, market research and public policy advocacy, IPC supports programs to meet the needs of an estimated $1.85 trillion global electronics industry. IPC maintains additional offices in Taos, N.M.; Arlington, Va.; Garden Grove, Calif.; Stockholm, Sweden; Moscow, Russia; Bangalore, India; and Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing, China.

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