I mentioned I've been doing a fair amount of work for the conventional printed media of late: today brings publication of another report in which I have had a research role.
Global Witness have produced a report on the activities of Mittal Steel in Liberia. These are extraordinary. In 2005 Mittal took over iron ore concessions in that country under an agreement that includes tax holidays, unregulated transfer prices, the use of a Cypriot tax haven holding company, the use of Swiss and Dutch tax participation exemptions to preserve low tax rates and the benefits of the tax holiday and a wide range of management issues within Liberia itself that make the report quite compelling reading.
I stress, Mittal has done nothing wrong. But what is significant is that Mittal did nothing to help Liberia either. They have said that the deal they signed was the one they were presented with. But in that case we think that Mittal should have pointed out the numerous faults and defects in the concession that was offered so that this became a fair deal for both parties. That's the least we would have expected of a company that claims in its social responsibility report that it:
"recognise[s] that our actions impact the people we employ, the communities and countries within which we work and society as a whole ‚Ä¶ We seek to ensure that all major business decisions are driven as much
by social considerations as by economic ones."
The evidence in the report does not support that claim.
The full report is available here.