EU politicians vote for tough oil, gas anti-corruption law
European Union legislators have voted for a draft anti-corruption law, echoing rigorous U.S. rules to make oil, gas and mining firms declare payments they make in resource-rich nations. Pressure has mounted on the EU to take a tough line after the U.S. regulator in August set demanding rules for U.S.-listed firms. Tuesday’s series of votes in the European Parliament backed detailed reporting to regulatory authorities starting from a minimum threshold of 80,000 euros ($105,100), almost identical to the $100,000 U.S. requirement and far lower than the million-dollar level some resource firms had said was practical. Non-governmental organizations were swift to welcome Tuesday’s decisions, although the draft rules will only become law following further negotiations and approval by EU member states.
See http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/18/us-eu-transparency-idUSBRE88H0LE20120918.
See also European parliamentary committee votes to put spotlight on payments by extractive companies to foreign governments in bid to increase transparency and curb corruption, http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/sep/19/eu-tougher-transparency-law-extractive?intcmp=122.
These EU provisions are stricter than the US provisions introduced recently by the Securities and Exchange Commission (see http://londonminingnetwork.org/2012/09/us-breakthrough-for-cafod-campaign-big-companies-forced-to-open-the-books/) but there are mixed reviews of the US provisions:
Divergent views of new US rules on DRC and “conflict minerals”: Are they good law?
After a year’s delay, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has enacted a rule that tasks manufacturers to ensure that none of the metals used in their products derive from mines run by military groups inside the DRC. However, critics have argued that the divison between “manufacturing” and mining is vague, and in any case that smaller companies are being allowed up to four years to comply. One commentator, Severine Autesserre, claims that the issue “has diverted attention from other key issues: poverty, corruption, land conflicts, the reform of local institutions.” She says the debate which led to the new ruling “has hindered the search for a comprehensive solution, she argues, leaving us instead with a series of poorly conceived technical responses”. See http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=11898.
And there are wider issues of taxation…
Top U.S. tax expert in savage attack on transfer pricing rules
Lee Sheppard of Tax Analysts is one of the world’s top experts in international tax. She has just issued one of the most devastating critiques ever made of the prevailing system for taxing multinational corporations, in a nine-page document entitled Is Transfer Pricing Worth Salvaging? See http://taxjustice.blogspot.ch/2012/08/top-us-tax-expert-in-savage-attack-on.html.
UN Economic Commission for Africa report says Africa loses $22bn per annum to illicit transfer of funds, including tax avoidance & evasion –
Author: BBC Radio 4; Huffington Post (USA); African Business – the report says this amount “could have easily made a huge difference in the lives of the continent’s poorer communities”; points “accusing finger” at multinationals – despite vast natural resources people in Zambia see hardly any benefit from mining operations as companies avoid paying tax, says Suzanne Matale, General Secretary of Council of Churches in Zambia – BBC Radio highlights campaign launched by 3 NGOs claiming corporate tax avoidance is harming the poor in developing countries
See http://www.business-humanrights.org/Links/Repository/1014709.