Global Transparency Initiative Dismisses Formal Complaint Against Exxon
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2021
(Washington, DC) Following yesterday’s extraordinary board meeting of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to discuss the complaint that Publish What You Pay-United States (PWYP-US) filed against Exxon lobbyist Matthew Gobush, EITI Chair Helen Clark released a statement formally closing the complaint. While Chair Clark’s statement acknowledges that Gobush’s actions highlight an “underlying concern” about EITI-implementing countries compliance with the Standard that they are meant to champion, the EITI declined to pursue any specific action to hold him accountable.
“The EITI Board didn’t dispute our complaint that Exxon’s board representative Matt Gobush lobbied against transparency, but it failed to take action and closed the case,” said Kathleen Brophy, Director of Publish What You Pay-US. “We are slightly encouraged by EITI Board Chair Helen Clark’s statement that sanctions to improve company compliance with EITI will be proposed by the EITI’s October board meeting, but we remain wary of EITI’s years of inaction. We are leaving the EITI until it demonstrates it will hold companies like Exxon to a meaningful transparency standard.”
In her statement today, Chair Clark notes that one-third of EITI-implementing companies are not actually making the disclosures that the Standard requires, meaning that they gain the reputational benefit of EITI participation without meeting the basic expectations for membership. Chair Clark’s statement promises that in the coming months, the EITI Board will work to “clarify and strengthen company expectations” and will make a decision on sanctions for non-compliance with these standards at the organization’s upcoming October 2021 board meeting. PWYP-US strongly encourages the Board to reaffirm the credibility of the EITI by ensuring that companies’ EITI membership is contingent upon publishing disclosures globally and without exception in line with the EITI standard, and are accountable for their lobbying activities.
The EITI has been slow to take real, meaningful action on civil society grievances regarding company compliance. In 2018, PWYP-US brought a complaint about Exxon and Chevron’s efforts to undermine the EITI and derail EITI implementation in the US. The former EITI Board Chair’s response to that complaint, while strongly worded, highlighted the lack of an accountability mechanism for those who do not uphold their reporting obligations under the standard. Only now, after three years of continued advocacy and PWYP-US’s expression of no confidence in the EITI Board is the organization beginning to pursue an accountability structure.