Oil companies don't like the part of financial reform that affects them.
Oil companies are fighting a new transparency measure—which two Democratic senators inserted into the bill—that requires oil, gas, and mineral companies registered with the SEC to disclose how much they pay to foreign governments for rights to extract those resources.
The measure is meant to crack down on bribery and help ensure that foreign nations are using energy wealth fairly, and not to fuel corruption or armed groups. ExxonMobil, among others, has criticized the measure for “the non-transparent manner in which it was added” and has argued that such disclosures would put them at a competitive disadvantage, reported The Wall Street Journal.
A Congressional committee will take another look at the SEC FOIA exemption.
It a little-noticed provision prior to the passage of the Dodd-Frank bill, but late last month, when Fox Business used the Freedom of Information Act to request from the Securities and Exchange Commission what it believed to be public records, the SEC cited a provision in the new financial reform bill that has since sparked an outcry.
The SEC told Fox Business that a provision in the bill exempted the agency from disclosing records or information derived from “surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities.” It has also argued that the new law is important, in order to get companies to cooperate with the agency’s requests to disclose information without fear of it going public. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said in a July 30 letter that the provision “does not provide a ‘blanket’ SEC exemption from FOIA and is not designed to protect the SEC as an agency from public oversight and accountability.”
Nonetheless, concerns about how the breadth of the language and how it might affect transparency have continued to draw criticism from lawmakers, and some are seeking to repeal the provision.
Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said he will hold a hearing on the SEC-FOIA issue. The hearing is scheduled for September.
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