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U.S. Congress Kills Critical Transparency Rule, Abandons Leadership on Anticorruption

  • Press release

  • 3 February 2017

"Lawmakers have shown themselves to be pro-corruption and have demolished U.S. leadership in this area,” said NRGI president and CEO Daniel Kaufmann.
3 February 2017, NEW YORK—A flagship U.S. anticorruption rule has been nullified by the country’s Congress. Today the U.S. Senate used the Congressional Review Act to eliminate a June 2016 Securities and Exchange Commission rule implementing the bipartisan Cardin-Lugar extractive industries payment transparency provision. This followed a similar vote in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and the White House has indicated that President Donald J. Trump will sign the resolution into law.
Daniel Kaufmann, president and CEO of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), said: “We are very disappointed that the rule implementing this trailblazing U.S. law, which deters corruption and improves governance in the notoriously opaque natural resource sector, has been gutted. Following a campaign of misinformation by the American Petroleum Institute and backers such as ExxonMobil, Republican lawmakers have shown themselves to be pro-corruption and have demolished U.S. leadership in this area.”
The U.S. law, passed in 2010 but only implemented last year after legal delays, was the first of its kind and has been replicated by 30 other countries, including Canada and many in Europe. Such laws have equipped citizens in resource-rich nations to fight corruption and hold their own governments to account for the management of revenues from the sector. Investors with trillions of dollars under management also support these laws as a means to manage risk in the volatile commodities sector.
On the Senate floor, numerous Democrats spoke passionately in defense of the SEC regulations. These included Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) (the original sponsor of the provision along with retired Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)), and Senator Patrick Leahy. Republicans said little on the subject before they voted against the SEC rule.
Major industry players like BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total, as well as Russian state-owned companies like Gazprom and Rosneft have begun reporting in Canada, France, Norway and the U.K. Companies have disclosed payments of over $150 billion to governments of over 100 countries to date.
“Despite this setback, the transparency train has left the station,” said Kaufmann. “Some of the dinosaurs of the industry are still clinging to opacity but we are encouraged by company reporting through laws in other countries around the world and we will continue to press the U.S. government to put effective transparency rules in place.”
For more information contact:
Lee Bailey
Communications Director
Natural Resource Governance Institute
[email protected]
T +44 (0)20 7332 6114
M +44 (0)7823 442 954 
Joseph Williams
Senior Advocacy Officer
Natural Resource Governance Institute
[email protected]
T +44 (0)20 7332 6113
M +44 (0)77 7575 1170