The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has been advised that Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) has rejected its filing of a Shareholder Resolution requesting the company adopt a moratorium on the desecration on cultural heritage sites.
Despite the resolution enjoying the support of the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance, FMG has rejected the Resolution as courier delivery of the documents was delayed due to COVID-related reasons.
FMG received electronic documents before the deadline sufficient for them to instruct their lawyers to undertake checks to determine shareholder eligibility. The physical documents were couriered to arrive comfortably before the deadline via an express overnight service.
On the afternoon of the deadline, TNT, the courier service, notified ACCR that the package was delayed for covid-related reasons beyond their control.
ACCR immediately notified FMG of this delay. The physical documents were delivered the next morning.
Commenting on FMG’s response, Brynn O’Brien, Executive Director at ACCR said:
“Given that FMG briefed external lawyers when the documents arrived electronically, they suffered no prejudice by the short delay in receiving the physical documents.
"That FMG is using the pandemic to their advantage is reprehensible; that they are doing this to avoid shareholder scrutiny of their relationships with Aboriginal Traditional Owners begs the question, what are they hiding?
“ASIC is allowing companies leeway on trading while insolvent. That goes to show how far COVID has required all of us to make major adjustments to the way we live and work. That FMG considers themselves above this rule of thumb is totally out of step with community and investor expectations.
“FMG’s major competitor and peer, BHP, saw it fit to accept electronic documentation during the pandemic. That FMG has knocked this resolution back on a minor technicality — especially after the international investor outrage heaped on Rio — calls into doubt its interest in dealing with the important issues raised by its shareholders and indeed Aboriginal Traditional Owners.”