Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

UK Government must defend against big oil and mining dirty tricks

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 15.58.18
Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 16.05.44UK Government must defend against big oil and mining dirty tricks

Oil and mining bodies together with companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell have drafted industry compliance guidelines that weaken the impact of new UK anti-corruption laws.

21st March 2015

Anti-corruption campaigners urge the UK Government to divorce itself from industry guidelines that would create transparency black-holes

Oil and mining bodies together with companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell have drafted industry compliance guidelines that weaken the impact of new UK anti-corruption laws. (1) A coalition of over 800 organisations including Global Witness, CAFOD, Oxfam, Christian Aid and ONE are urging the Government to reject industry’s proposed guidelines which suggest that the law allows companies to keep certain payments secret. (2)

The UK transparency law aims to cut corruption by forcing UK-based extractive companies to publish highly detailed reports of their payments to governments – such as taxes, royalties and licence fees – broken down by each of their projects worldwide; these payments are worth billions of pounds each year. Disclosure provides citizens in resource-rich but impoverished countries with the means to “follow the money” and hold governments and companies to account.

However, the draft industry guidelines suggest that companies can lump projects together when they report, and withhold from public view certain crucial payments they make as part of joint ventures. The result is that billions of pounds worth of payments will remain hidden from view and vulnerable to corruption.

Industry claims that their guidance is a reasonable interpretation of regulations; however, Global Witness believes that the draft industry guidelines go against the letter and intent of the law (3). EU legal expert Paul Lasok QC, Head of Monckton Chambers agrees, calling the guidelines “highly unsatisfactory … to the extent of being positively misleading” and states that they guide companies to report in a manner that could be “in breach of the regulations”. (4)

In addition, this week’s disclosures by Norwegian oil major Statoil under a similar law show that the UK industry guidelines are not fit for purpose. “Statoil’s highly detailed report puts the UK industry’s approach to shame,” said Dominic Eagleton, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness. (5)

Global Witness applauds the UK Government’s record for leading on extractives transparency up to this point. Lib-Dem Business Minister Jo Swinson and Department for Business officials championed the law, and the Prime Minister made the issue a top priority during his G8 Presidency in 2013. (6) “The UK has established a strong transparency law. The Government must stand firm against big business and divorce itself from industry guidelines that would allow companies to continue making payments in secret” says Eagleton.

Ends

Contact: Dominic Eagleton – +44 7738 713 016 / [email protected]

FULL ARTICLE WITH NOTES

RELATED

Statoil’s historic disclosures blow holes in Exxon and Shell’s campaign for secrecy

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

0 Comments on “UK Government must defend against big oil and mining dirty tricks”

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: