By Ben Geman - 03/23/12 07:51 PM EDT
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a public case Thursday night for controversial — and delayed — Securities and Exchange Commission rules that will force oil and mining companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments.
Clinton highlighted the planned rules during a broader speech about reducing corruption at Transparency International’s Annual Integrity Award Dinner in Washington, D.C.
It was at least the second time in recent weeks that Clinton has advocated for the rules, which are required under a provision in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.
The rules require SEC-listed oil, gas and mining companies to reveal payments to governments related to projects in their countries, such as money for production licenses, taxes, royalties and other aspects of energy and mineral projects.
The rules are part of broader efforts to help undo the “resource curse,” in which some countries in Africa and elsewhere are plagued by high levels of corruption, conflict and poverty despite their energy and mineral wealth.
But oil companies – including Exxon Mobil Corp., which helped sponsor the dinner where Clinton spoke – are seeking various exemptions from the rule and leeway to avoid detailed reporting.
The oil companies say they support transparency, but warn that if the rules are too prescriptive, it will hand a competitive advantage to state-owned companies, from countries including Russia and China, that aren’t bound by the mandate. Human-rights groups say the oil industry is seeking to gut the rules. Click here and here for more on the battle over the regulation.
Clinton, in the speech, also touted the U.S. pledge to implement international standards on resource payments transparency under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a collaboration that brings together nations, companies and nongovernmental groups.
“[B]ecause our credibility depends on practicing what we preach, we are trying to up our own game,” Clinton said of the plans to implement the EITI standards, which President Obama announced in September.