Press Release / June 26, 2008

Congress Presses Oil Companies to Halt Secret Payments

Media release for June 26, 2008

Today the House Financial Services Committee is deliberating legislation that would enhance U.S. energy security and curb corruption in poor countries by casting light on payments made to foreign governments by oil, gas and mining companies.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Disclosure (EITD) Act, introduced by Chairman Barney Frank, is a simple and low-cost change to Securities and Exchange Commission rules to ensure that SEC-regulated oil and mining firms, including US companies and most of their main competitors from Europe, Russia and China, disclose their payments to foreign governments.

The Bill is needed because payments like taxes and royalties are kept secret in many countries, so citizens cannot check how much their governments are earning and how the money is being used.

"Countries are making record profits from selling oil and minerals. The Bill will help ensure that this money is used to lift millions of people out of poverty, not to enrich corrupt elites and create instability that threatens U.S. interests," said Corinna Gilfillan, the U.S. head of Global Witness, a non-profit group which campaigns to break the links between natural resources, conflict and corruption.

Some special interest groups have argued that the Bill would harm the interests of U.S. energy companies. But today Global Witness is publishing "Myths and Facts", a briefing on the Bill which explains why U.S. companies will actually gain from more transparency.

"At a time when oil companies are making profits of hundreds of millions of dollars a day, we hope they will welcome a bill which would ensure fair competition with Chinese and other foreign oil companies, " said Global Witness Policy Adviser Sasha Lezhnev.

The EITD Bill would promote U.S. interests by combating corruption and improving the stability of U.S. investments abroad through improved governance in oil-producing countries. The bill is a powerful tool for poverty reduction, as transparency will enable oil revenues to be managed in a more accountable way. 

For media inquiries, contact:

-        Sasha Lezhnev, Global Witness. Tel: +1-202-721-5634 or [email protected]

-        Corinna Gilfillan, Global Witness.  Tel: +1-202-725-8705

For further information, see and