WSJ: SEC Says Conflict Minerals, Pay Ratio Rules Remain in Force

Wall Street Journal CFO reporter Tatyana Shumsky writes:

Companies must continue to comply with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rules on disclosing “conflict minerals” and the ratio comparing executive pay to the median employee, said Shelley Parratt, acting director of the SEC’s division of corporation finance, on Friday.

“Although we are seeking comments on them, both rules remain in effect,” Ms. Parratt said Friday at the Practicing Law Institute’s “SEC Speaks” conference in Washington, D.C.

SEC acting chairman Michael Piwowar in recent weeks has requested public comment on the two provisions of the Dodd-Frank overhaul law. Mr. Piwowar also instructed SEC staff to look at the rule mandate and see if alternate interpretations could offer some relief to companies trying to comply.

“The Dodd-Frank Act is ripe with burdens ultimately borne by the forgotten investors,” Mr. Piwowar said Friday at the same conference.

Ms. Parratt said SEC staff are reviewing public comments on these rules as they are submitted.

The guarded message from the SEC underlines the challenges that face the new Republican administration and its deregulation efforts. President Donald Trump during his second week in office signed an executive order aimed at rolling back Dodd-Frank and other financial regulations. However, repealing the law requires an act of Congress.

The SEC also is limited in what relief it can offer companies as amending the rules or delaying their effective date requires a commission vote. The agency is currently operating with just two out of a possible five commissioners, requiring the approval of both commissioners to pass any changes.

Companies have criticized both rules for the high cost of compliance.

The conflict minerals disclosure rule requires companies to tell investors whether their products contain tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold that is mined from The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Hopefully Congress will repeal conflict minerals and most if not all of Dodd-Frank, but that will take a while,” said Paul Atkins, a former Republican SEC Commissioner and the Trump transition team’s point person on financial regulation, speaking on a panel at the conference.

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