U.S. Congress Votes for Corruption by Overturning Historic Transparency Law in Gift to Big Oil

Author: Global Witness (UK), Published on: 3 February 2017

Today’s decision by the Republican-led U.S. Senate to overturn a rule designed to stop oil companies striking corrupt deals with foreign governments is a grave threat to U.S. national security and an astonishing gift to big oil, said Global Witness. The news comes just two days after Rex Tillerson, a longstanding opponent of the law while CEO of ExxonMobil, was confirmed as Secretary of State... The law...requires U.S.-listed extractive companies like Exxon, Chevron and several Chinese oil majors to publish details of the hundreds of billions of dollars they pay to governments across the world in return for rights to natural resources. Bringing shady oil deals to light should help ensure these vast public revenues benefit all instead of lining the pockets of corrupt elites. However, this week, Congress voted to rescind the implementing regulation...

“...Now [Tillerson is] Secretary of State Congress has immediately sanctioned corruption by green lighting secret deals between oil companies and despots. These deals deprive some of the world’s poorest people of oil wealth that is rightfully theirs...,” said Corinna Gilfillan, Head of U.S. Office of Global Witness... Thirty other major economies around the world, including the UK, Canada, Norway and all 27 members of the European Union, have laws requiring their oil, gas and mining companies to disclose their payments to governments. Dozens of major European and Russian oil companies have already published their payments to governments. Claims made by the oil lobby that greater transparency will harm U.S. oil companies’ competitiveness has proven untrue...

Bishop Cantu, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said, “Transparency in extractive industry payments to governments is important to us as leaders of the Catholic community of faith... We believe these principles, policies, and rules can help protect the lives, dignity and rights of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people on earth. The rules have moral and human consequences as well as economic and political impact.”

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