On January 20, 2017, Pomerantz LLP was appointed Lead Counsel in a class action lawsuit against Samarco Mineração S.A. (“Samarco” or the “Company”) and certain of its officers. The class action, filed in United States District Court, Southern District of New York, and docketed under 16-cv-08800, is on behalf of a class consisting of all persons or entities who purchased or otherwise acquired Samarco’s 10-year notes respectively due 2022, 2023, and 2024 (collectively, the “Notes”) between October 31, 2012 and November 30, 2015, both dates inclusive (the “Class Period”), seeking to recover compensable damages caused by Defendants’ violations of the Exchange Act of 1934.
Samarco is a privately held Brazilian mining company, controlled in equal parts by the Brazilian mining company Vale S.A. (“Vale”) and the Australian mining company BHP Billiton Limited (“BHP”). The Company’s main product is iron ore pellets, made from minerals with low ore content and sold to steel makers worldwide.
Between 2012 and 2014, Samarco conducted at least three debt offerings. In 2012, the Company offered an aggregate principal amount of $1 billion of 4.125% notes due 2022 (the “2022 Notes”). In 2013, the Company offered an aggregate principal amount of $700 million of 5.75% notes due 2023 (the “2023 Notes”). In 2014, the Company offered an aggregate principal amount of $500 million of 5.375% notes due 2024 (the “2024 Notes”).
The complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, Defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (i) the Company’s Fundão tailings dam had longstanding systemic and structural defects; (ii) despite representing to investors that Samarco had mitigated the risk of a catastrophic accident as much as possible through “a combination of risk management, careful evaluation, experience and knowledge,” Samarco had in fact ignored repeated, reliable warnings regarding the condition of the Fundão tailings dam; and (iii) as a result of the foregoing, Defendants’ statements about Samarco’s business, operations, and prospects were false and misleading and/or lacked a reasonable basis.
On November 5, 2015, Samarco’s Fundão tailings dam burst, causing the downstream Santarem water dam to overflow, flooding 60 million cubic meters of land, decimating the indigenous village of Bento Rodrigues, and contaminating the Rio Doce River and the water supply for 200 towns with arsenic, lead, chromium and various other heavy metals. Subsequent investigations revealed that Samarco had for years disregarded safety concerns raised with respect to the Fundão dam, refusing to implement an emergency management plan, disregarding warnings of design deficiencies and the consequences of expanding the dam, and ignoring recommendations to install pressure sensors and monitor the dam even after cracks appeared in it. Brazilian prosecutors have accused Samarco of deliberate misconduct, charged 21 of its executives with qualified homicide in connection with the dam’s failure, and are seeking billions of dollars in compensatory and environmental recovery fees from the Company. Samarco has not resumed its mining operations since the collapse.
The offering memoranda issued in connection with Samarco’s offerings of the Notes and the annual management reports issued by Samarco during the Class Period misrepresented material facts concerning the Company’s programs and procedures to mitigate environmental, health and safety concerns associated with its tailings dams. When the truth about the Company’s operations was revealed by the collapse of the Fundão dam and investigation into its causes, the value of Samarco’s Notes significantly declined, harming investors.