Oxfam America present oral arguments in case against SEC

By Alice Powell on May 14, 2015

Photo by David Blaikie available under a Creative Commons License

This post originally appeared on www.publishwhatyoupay.org

In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Act, section 1504 of which obliges all extractive companies listed in the US to publicly disclose the payments they make to governments around the world.

Five years on, despite inspiring similar legislation by other jurisdictions around the world, this law has yet to come into effect. The SEC was tasked with drawing up the rules for section 1504 and their first effort, from 2012, was vacated by the US District Court in July 2013 following a law suit by the American Petroleum Institute. The SEC was asked to reissue the rule, but has yet to do so, despite the fact that it seems to have ‘plans to take action on numerous other rulemakings that do not have a Congressional deadline before it turns to Section 1504.’

For Oxfam America, this represents an undue delay and so the organisation has ‘filed a lawsuit against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today for unlawfully withholding a final rule implementing Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.’ Oxfam America were in court last week making oral arguments, you can read coverage of the court case in the media such as politico and the AP.

Every day this rule gets delayed means more extractive revenues being potentially lost or misused, instead of being able to help citizens from some of the world’s poorest countries. With oil, gas and mining there is no second chance.

Meanwhile, other countries have already enacted recent EU Directives obliging listed (and large non-listed) extractive companies to publish what they pay, with the UK being the first to do so. In anticipation of these laws, Tullow Oil has two years in a row voluntarily released project-level information. A spokesperson for the company stated that they had received no negative feedback for their disclosure from the governments where they operate.