Transparency International, big oil and country-by-country reporting

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Transparency International had this letter in the FT today:

The position expressed by the large oil companies (“Shell joins push to dilute EU’s proposed anti-corruption rules”, February 20) that disclosing information on a country-by-country basis of their operations will not “help combat corruption” is counter-intuitive at best and misrepresentative at worst.

Citizens, investors and civil society, especially those in developing countries, must have relevant information in order to determine the full extent of the activities of these companies. Multinational businesses generate revenues and profits in resource-rich countries and so should contribute to the public coffers through royalties, taxation and the like. In the absence of country-by-country reporting by companies or disclosure of this information by countries, it is impossible to know how much profit is generated and what, if any, special arrangements governments may have entered into.

You duly report that there is investor support for transparent country-by-country reporting by some high-profile investors. It is a position for which Transparency International has campaigned for many years. We encourage investors, civil society and lawmakers (particularly in the European Union and in the US, where relevant legislation is being considered) to come to the aid of the millions of people who live in poverty in resource-rich countries and contribute to the fight against corruption by demanding country-by-country reporting.

The importance of full and transparent disclosure on a country-by-country basis is apparent throughout the developing world. For example, in resource-rich Mozambique, multinational companies that engage in large mining projects are often exempt from corporate tax, import and export duties, and sometimes even income tax payments. The failure of multinational companies to report fully on all their operations in Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the people of Mozambique to demand accountability from the multinationals and their government.

Karen Egger, Transparency International, Berlin, Germany

Ia gree 100%.

But then, TI and Tax Research UK are both members of the Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development.