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Stock exchange rules boost transparency for extractive industry projects worldwide

Release Date: 08-Feb-2011

Groundbreaking legislation passed through the US Congress in July 2010 has sent a wave of momentum around the globe relating to transparency requirements for payments in extractive industry projects.  President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act last year, which in addition to financial regulatory reform, requires all U.S and foreign companies registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to disclose, on a disaggregated basis, how much they pay governments for access to their oil, gas and minerals.  The requirement applies on a country-by-country and project-by-project basis, which is a level of disclosure not yet required by any other regulatory body around the world.  A handful of other stock exchanges have notable requirements, such as the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investments Market which puts extra disclosure requirements on extractive industry companies and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange which started mandating country-by-country reporting in early 2010; however to this point nothing has yet reached the level of the US standards. Given the widespread impact of the Dodd-Frank legislation, which will require compliance by 90% of the world’s largest internationally operating oil and gas companies, it has provoked calls for the new international accounting standard to be replicated in other countries. 

In late November, the Canadian Publish What you Pay Coalition published a paper that calls on Canada to harmonise its regulations in line with the Dodd-Frank requirements.  In December 2010 the European Commission carried out a consultation to discuss the possibility of introducing such requirements for EU-listed companies.  In addition, the UK Parliament passed a motion to consider further disclosure of payments to governments including country-by-country reporting requirements. 

The Revenue Watch Institute has further information on the latest developments related to the Dodd Frank act.

Finally, the World Bank recently released its Annual Extractive Industries Report in which it makes special mention of the Dodd-Frank legislation as an international standard to consider.  These developments are encouraging and strengthen the global movement for transparency and accountability in revenues derived from oil, gas and mining projects.  Advances such as the Dodd-Frank Act, along with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the work of international networks such as the Publish What You Pay coalition are vital to unlocking the opacity surrounding to extractive industry projects around the world.  

Jubilee Australia is a member of the Australian Publish What You Pay Network, along with Oxfam Australia and Transparency International.