WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – issued the following statement today after President Trump signed his first significant law, legislation to repeal a bipartisan rule that made it harder for oil, gas, and mining companies to engage in bribery and corruption in developing nations.
The transparency rule, which was finalized in 2016, was designed to protect U.S. citizens and investors from having millions of their dollars vanish into the pockets of corrupt foreign oligarchs in countries like Russia and Nigeria. The rule did this by requiring all oil, gas, and mineral companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to annually disclose the payments they make to the governments of foreign countries in which they operate.
“By signing this measure – the first significant bill he has signed into law – President Trump just gave a Valentine to kleptocrats from resource-rich countries and the companies that bankroll them under the table,” Brown said. “Killing this anti-corruption rule means that crooked oligarchs in poverty-stricken communities around the world will again have free rein to steal money from their own people and American investors and shareholders.”
The transparency rule was the result of a bipartisan provision that Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and former Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) added to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Ever since the rule’s introduction, ExxonMobil, formerly led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the American Petroleum Institute (API), and other members of the oil and gas industry have fought against it.
Over 30 countries - including many European nations and Canada - have adopted similar anti-corruption rules. Today these measures apply to 80 percent of the world’s largest publicly-listed oil, gas and mining companies, including state-owned companies from Russia, China, and Brazil.