The London Anti-Corruption Summit: a key opportunity for extractives trading transparency

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Government leaders gather in London this week to attend UK Prime Minster David Cameron’s Anti-Corruption Summit. Publish What You Pay and the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) are calling on the UK and other participating governments to ensure that the Summit addresses one of the largest remaining areas of corruption risk in oil, gas and mining: commodity trading.

Companies’ payments to governments related to commodity trading are usually secret and often one of the largest income flows for resource-rich countries. In Angola, Iraq, Libya and Nigeria the majority of total government revenues come from crude oil sales – often to UK, other EU, Swiss or US companies.

Corruption risks in oil, gas and minerals trading have been acknowledged by the Africa Progress Panel, the UK Financial Conduct Authority, the Swiss government, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others.

Despite the establishment of a global financial transparency standard for most areas of the extractive industries, physical trading of oil, gas and minerals remains a “wild west” frontier as unaccountable as the huge and secretive financial flows exposed recently in the Panama Papers leaks.

The Summit communiqué should clearly state the intention of participant governments to achieve greater transparency in physical commodity trading transactions between companies and governments. The UK should commit to revising its own extractive sector reporting regulations to include these transactions, advocate for EU-level change, and lead an international process to end trading secrecy that includes other major trading hubs like Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.

PWYP, NRGI and others have written to Prime Minister Cameron calling for UK leadership on this issue. The heads of both organisations have also emphasized the urgency of addressing trading transparency in their contributions to an Anti-Corruption Manifesto due to be presented to government leaders on 12 May.

The London Summit is a crucial opportunity for government leaders to commit to the disclosure of payments to governments for the sale of oil, gas and minerals. Citizens suffering corruption and gross financial mismanagement in many of the world’s poorest yet resource-rich countries deserve nothing less.

Read the joint PWYP / NRGI briefing on trading transparency here.

Read the joint press release by PWYP / NRGI here.

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