U.S. SEC to Meet on Conflict Mineral and Advertising Rules

Members of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will meet next month to consider rules mandated by the 2010 financial regulatory overhaul and a separate law enacted this year to ease the initial public offering process for small companies.

In an announcement posted on the SEC website, the agency said the five commissioners will meet on Aug. 22 to consider rules requiring public companies to disclose whether they use minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo or make payments to overseas governments to develop natural gas. The agency will also consider a rule required by the 2012 JOBS Act lifting advertising restrictions on some companies going public.

The meeting will be the first since April for the commission, whose pace of rulemaking has been slowed by demands for cost-benefit analyses and the complexity of the rules. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro has told lawmakers that some rulemakings, like the conflict mineral proposal, have been especially challenging to complete because they center on human rights issues that are typically outside of the agency’s jurisdiction.

Humanitarian groups accuse warlords in the DRC of enslaving, raping and murdering residents in the aftermath of the country’s civil war. That misery, they say, is funded by conflict minerals from the nation’s rich mines.

Product Disclosure

The SEC proposed a rule in December 2010 requiring companies to disclose how they acquire the gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten used in their products. The proposal reaches into the operations of tech giants such as Apple Inc., jewelry makers such as Tiffany & Co., aerospace firms such as Boeing Co. and retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The agency proposed the disclosure of payments to other governments, known as the resource-extraction rule, at the same time. That measure would require public companies to publish information about the type and total payments made to other governments for the commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals.

The meeting will mark the SEC’s first attempt to propose rules that would lift the ban on general solicitation for smaller companies that are going public. Though Congress required the SEC to propose the rule by July 4, Schapiro has told lawmakers that deadline would be challenging to meet.

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