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Lifting the veil on overseas oil deals

Oil refinery

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: The rising price of oil has literally been fueling more deals with reputedly corrupt governments in the push to tap new reserves. Details of those deals rarely see the light. But a bill set to be introduced in Congress today would change that. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports.


Sam Eaton: The bill would require all oil, gas and mining companies registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to publicly disclose the payments they make to foreign governments. Oxfam America is part of an international coalition pushing for the bill. Spokesman Ian Gary says the current system of secret contracts breeds corruption.

Ian Gary: And in that situation, it's extremely difficult for citizens in these countries to hold their own governments accountable for how the money is being spent.

Gary says the current oil boom could bring hundreds of billions of dollars to Africa. And he says transparency would ensure more of that money reaches the people who need it the most. But Georgetown University law professor Donald Langevoort says the Securities and Exchange Commission doesn't typically enforce rules with social or political aims.

Donald Langevoort: That's something the SEC has resisted.

Instead he says, the agency in the business of protecting investors, the same ones reaping the benefits of big oil's record profits.

I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.

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