US passes landmark reforms on resource transparency: GW

765

Lobby group Global Witness says a new US law will help to lift the curse of corruption and conflict from poor countries, including many in Africa, that are rich in oil and minerals by promoting greater public oversight and responsible trading practices.

Provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (also known as the Financial Reform Act) will require oil, gas and mining companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to publicly disclose their tax and revenue payments to governments around the world, Global Witness said in a press release. “This disclosure will deter the corruption which has brought deep poverty and conflict to many resource-rich countries.”

The new law will also require companies whose products contain cassiterite (tin ore), coltan, wolframite and gold to disclose to the US Securities and Exchange Commission whether they are sourcing these minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or adjoining countries. Companies will have to detail the measures they have taken to avoid sourcing these minerals from DRC armed groups, which are guilty of massacres and other atrocities. The bill also requires that all information disclosed be independently audited.
“These provisions are a huge victory for corporate accountability in the oil, gas and mining industries, and we commend the leadership of Members of Congress who have steadfastly championed them,” said Corinna Gifillan of Global Witness, a non-profit group which has campaigned since the 1990s to break the links between natural resources, corruption and conflict
“As well as helping the people of resource-rich-but-poor countries, these provisions will serve US governmental and commercial interests around the world by promoting stability and responsible corporate investment,” said Gilfillan. Global Witness is a co-founder of Publish What You Pay, a global coalition of more than 600 civil society groups that works for transparency in the oil and mining industries.



The House of Representatives approved these reforms on June 30 and the Senate did so yesterday. President Obama is expected to sign the Dodd-Frank legislation into law next week. “Now is the time for the United Kingdom and other major economies to follow the example of the US, so that these crucial reforms can become global standards,” said Gilfillan.