Clinton pressure SEC to establish strict payments rules for petroleum and mining

Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pressuring the Securities and Exchange Commission to establish strict rules that require petroleum and mining companies to disclose payments issued to foreign governments.

Though the SEC has been hard-at-work in implementing Dodd-Frank rules, oil companies have pressed the agency to provide exemptions to the regulation and the required reporting that accompanies the provision.

“We are encouraging [the SEC] to go as far as possible because the [European Union] is already considering provisions similar to Section 1504 because we have passed 1504,” Clinton said, referring to the Cardin-Lugar Amendment of the Dodd-Frank Act, The Hill reports.

The Cardin-Lugar Amendment, authored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), require U.S. companies that engage in resource extraction to reveal payments given to governments related to all aspects of the contract in their countries.

Oil companies, however, argue that the rules put U.S. energy companies at a disadvantage, as larger foreign competitors would be able to access the information and outbid U.S. energy companies for projects.

Human-rights and anti-poverty groups have spoken in favor of the measure, which is intended to help reverse the “resource curse,” in which some areas like Africa, rich in mineral and energy wealth, are steeped in poverty and corruption.

“Countries around the world have suffered deeply from corruption, conflict and unfair foreign exploitation,” Simon Taylor, the founder of Global Witness, said. “By trying to water down these transparency laws, oil companies are in effect trying to gag millions of people who have a right to know how their countries’ wealth is being managed and who is getting the money.”

Clinton expressed hope that the SEC would adopt the ruling as it is intended without any changes.

“We know that there are challenges in doing this,” Clinton said, according to The Hill. “I hope the regulations expected from the SEC reflect the clear intent of the law, namely to require all relevant companies operating in this sector to disclose the payments they make to foreign governments. I think everybody is benefited from the disinfectant of sunshine and the spotlight to hold institutions accountable.”

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