Transparency conference highlights role of binding laws as a complement to voluntary approaches
Paris – As the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) global summit concludes in Paris, international agency Oxfam welcomed commitments by France, Germany and the UK to make it mandatory for oil, gas and mining companies to publish data regarding their payments in resource-rich countries.
Luc Lampriere, executive director of Oxfam France said: “We’ve seen that a voluntary approach to transparency may work in some countries where political will is strong. But additional mandatory company reporting laws, such as the recently passed Dodd-Frank law in the US, are needed to ensure that information gets into the hands of citizens who need it, especially in countries unlikely to join EITI”.
Governments, companies and civil society organizations convened at the EITI conference to take stock of the EITI, which was launched in 2003.
“We’re excited to see the support for stronger regulation coming from the French, UK, and German governments and expect to see a new European law matching the Dodd-Frank Act’s requirements this year,” said Lampriere.
Ian Gary, Senior Policy Manager for Extractive Industries at Oxfam America said: “We expect to see quick and robust implementation of the US law by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. European regulators are watching this process closely and are looking to harmonize their reporting requirements. The US law already covers a large number of companies including some based in the US, Europe, China, Brazil and South Africa. Broader application of mandatory reporting will bring more companies under the requirement and reduce any competitive fears, which we believe are overstated by many companies.”
There is growing support from the investment community for information on payments from extractive industries to help assess the political and reputational risks faced by these companies.
“In the US, asset managers and pension funds with over $1.2 trillion in assets under management have written to the SEC to express strong support for the robust implementation of the US law. These firms believe this information is important and material to make decisions,” said Gary.
Maylis Labusquiere, advocacy officer at Oxfam France said: “The new American law shows that country-by-country tax reporting is possible. Extending the requirement to other sectors, with disclosure of further information, will be vital to fight illicit financial flows, tax avoidance and tax havens which rob governments of the resources to combat poverty.”
Notes to editors
- More than 1.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day in the more than 50 countries rich in natural resources.
- Eleven countries have now been judged to have completed the minimum requirements of the EITI, publishing data regarding payments made by oil, gas and mining companies as well as government receipts. EITI implementation requires governments to sign up to the initiative. EITI is implemented at the national level by a multi-stakeholder working group comprised of government, company and civil society representatives. An international board makes decisions on country compliance and enforces the EITI rules. More rigorous disclosure requirements, including disaggregated, company-by-company reporting and disclosure of contracts are needed to further advance the EITI globally. The Central African Republic, the Kyrgyz Republic, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, and Yemen have joined Azerbaijan, Ghana, Liberia, Mongolia, and Timor-Leste as EITI Compliant countries.
- A provision in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act signed into law last year by United States President Obama requires all American and foreign companies registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to disclose payments they make, annually and at a project level in each country of operation. The SEC is expected to issue a final regulation this April. The law covers European companies such as Total, BP, Shell and 27 out of 30 top internationally operating oil and gas companies are covered by Dodd-Frank. The list of the covered companies can be found at the Publish what you pay - USA website along with a Q and A about the provisions of the law.
- All submissions made to the SEC on the regulation can be found at the SEC website.
For information and to set up interviews:
Jessica Forres (Oxfam America) : +1 202-777-2914 (office) / +1 202-460-8272 (mobile)