News: ExxonMobil Representative Should be Removed from Board of Global Transparency Initiative, say Watchdog Groups

ExxonMobil Representative Should be Removed from Board of Global Transparency Initiative, say Watchdog Groups 

Civil society complaint lodged with Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative over revelations of activities to gut anti-corruption rules  

ExxonMobil lobbyist Matthew Gobush should be removed from the Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a multi stakeholder initiative dedicated to transparency and accountability in the oil, gas, and mining sectors, according to a complaint filed by Publish What You Pay-United States. The complaint details Gobush’s lobbying activities on behalf of ExxonMobil, in clear contravention of the basic obligations of EITI Board Members to promote, rather than undermine, the objectives of the EITI Standard. 

The Publish What You Pay-United States coalition filed this formal complaint after learning that the ExxonMobil representative to the EITI board participated in lobbying meetings at the Securities and Exchange Commission with the American Petroleum Institute (API) and US Chamber of Commerce in late 2020. API and the Chamber publicly urged US regulators to weaken the regulation for Section 1504 requiring mandatory payment disclosures from oil, gas, and mining companies such that they would not align with the definition of project-level reporting outlined in the EITI Standard. However, unlike some other EITI supporting companies that also participated in those meetings, ExxonMobil gave no public indication that they support US regulatory alignment with the EITI Standard’s approach on project-level reporting.  

As the complaint describes, this builds on a pattern of problematic behavior by the company including: refusing to declare support for a strong rule in alignment with the EITI Standard during last year’s rulemaking unlike other EITI-supporting companies; ExxonMobil’s continued membership in the API and the Chamber, both of which have publicly lobbied for a Section 1504 rule that conflicts with the EITI Standard; and ExxonMobil’s historical opposition and previous efforts to weaken a robust rule. In fact, this is the second civil society complaint to the EITI regarding ExxonMobil’s involvement in the EITI. 

Publish What You Pay-US Coalition Director Kathleen Brophy issued the following statement:

“ExxonMobil’s lobbyist has undermined the most basic goals of a global initiative to reduce corruption. Gobush’s seat on the EITI Board seems to be an attempt to use the initiative as a whitewashing effort while ExxonMobil lobbies for secrecy. Both ExxonMobil and its EITI board representative were provided ample opportunity to clarify their support for a US transparency law in-line with their stated commitment to the international standard set by the EITI, and both failed to do so. Consequently, Gobush should be kicked off the EITI’s Board, plain and simple. ExxonMobil’s lobbyist should not be allowed to undermine the global transparency standard that dozens of countries, hundreds of oil and mining companies, and thousands of civil society organizations around the world support. Gobush’s removal is necessary to ensure the continued legitimacy of the EITI.”