Global Transparency Initiative Fails to Hold Exxon Accountable
PWYP-US will no longer engage with Initiative — Ongoing EITI process must ensure company compliance leading into October board meeting.
(Washington, DC) Today, the Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) demonstrated a lack of commitment to holding its board members accountable by refusing to remove Exxon’s representative, Matthew Gobush, from the Board for failing to meet EITI board member conduct requirements. This follows a complaint lodged by Publish What You Pay-United States (PWYP-US) alleging that Gobush’s lobbying activities undermined the development of US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure regulations in line with the EITI Standard. Such lobbying violates expectations of EITI Board members, who are responsible for the EITI goal of making the EITI Standard “the internationally accepted standard for transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors.”
As a result, PWYP-US expresses a Vote of No Confidence in the Board — the coalition will suspend its participation as a member in the EITI civil society constituency until the EITI commits to policies and procedures that hold supporting companies accountable. PWYP-US calls on others to follow suit.
Publish What You Pay-US Coalition Director Kathleen Brophy issued the following statement:
According to publicly available meeting records, Gobush participated in lobbying meetings at the SEC with the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the US Chamber of Commerce (Chamber), two of the largest American oil lobby groups. These meetings focused on the SEC’s implementing rule for Dodd-Frank Section 1504, a transparency provision requiring mandatory payment disclosures from oil, gas, and mining companies.
The API and the Chamber have been long-time opponents of a strong implementing rule in alignment with the EITI Standard and reiterated their support of a weak rule while the SEC was revising the rule last year. PWYP-US raised concerns regarding Gobush’s attendance at these meetings – namely that Gobush, an EITI Board Member, attended lobby meetings with the two industry groups that have continuously fought to weaken extractive industry payment transparency regulations in the US for the past decade. PWYP-US demanded swift action, considering that this is the second civil society complaint to the EITI regarding Exxon’s non-compliance.
In a recent blog post, the EITI Secretariat pointed to its assessment of EITI companies’ performance against a set of EITI “Company Expectations.” Fully 30% failed to meet even basic-level disclosures of tax payments in non-EITI countries. This is an appalling and untenable performance, all the more so given it has taken three years for these expectations to be assessed, following their drafting as a response to the earlier 2018 complaint against Exxon and Chevron. This stands as an indictment of the collective performance of the companies’ constituency within the EITI — and it is high-time that companies that do not support the Standard are removed from the board.