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1 Feb 2017

[opinion] Isabel Munilla, senior policy advisor for extractive industries - Oxfam America, in The Hill (USA)

Is Congress voting for corruption?

...[You] might find it perplexing that scrapping an anti-corruption law is at the top of the congressional to-do list in Washington.  But Congress will seek to do just that this week by voting to roll back rules to implement the landmark bipartisan Cardin-Lugar anti-corruption law known as section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act... This rule is a hallmark of U.S. global leadership in fighting corruption in poor countries. It covers the vast majority of the world’s largest oil, gas and mining companies, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell, as well as leading state-owned companies from China and Brazil...

[More] than 30 countries have followed the United States’ lead and passed similar laws... Reports have been published by BP and Shell and even by Russia’s state-owned companies, Gazprom and Rosneft... At a time when aid dollars are shrinking, transparency is essential to prevent the looting of much needed revenues by corrupt officials. And if the rule is rolled-back, these payments will remain a secret, possibly forever, fueling corruption, waste, and keeping poor countries dependent on U.S. foreign aid... Business professors from George Washington University and Catholic University...[conducted] a study of more than 1,500 equity securities...[which] found that increased transparency resulting from disclosures required under section 1504 lowers the cost of capital for covered U.S.-listed firms by up to $12.6 billion... This effort comes just as the Senate moves to confirm former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next U.S. secretary of state. Tillerson and ExxonMobil lobbied aggressively to oppose this anti-corruption rule with the American Petroleum Institute, and tried to block it and overturn it in the courts. 

[refers to support for the law by ING, BNP Paribas, UBS; also refers to reports already published by BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Glencore, Kosmos Energy]

Part of the following timelines

US Congress undoes Dodd-Frank regulations on extractive industry revenue transparency

Publish What You Pay urges oil, gas & mining firms to support US law on disclosure of payments to govts. - statements of support by 13 firms