Global Witness co-founder Charmian Gooch wonders why talk of third world corruption never gets to the secret first world forces driving it.
January 5, 2014

Global Witness has been fighting the fight to bring fairness and equality in resource rich third world nations.

We've all seen the stories of corrupted warlords and "presidents for life" living in opulence while millions of impoverished citizens fight for basic human needs.

But as co-founder Charmian Gooch points out, what drives this inequality and poverty is too often a series of opaque shell organizations enriching first world corporations. And they'll do anything to keep people from finding out their actions:

For further information about this story, download the Global Witness briefing: Shell’s obscure payments kill its case for weak US and EU transparency laws[..]

Shell is at the forefront of an aggressive lobby effort to critically weaken new U.S transparency laws which require oil, gas and mining companies to publish the payments they make to governments on a project-by-project basis. Shell is also involved in the intensive industry lobby campaign against moves to create similar legislation for European extractive industry companies.[..]

Policy-makers and regulators must not cave in to pressure to remove the requirement for extractive companies to publish project-level payments. It is only through project-by-project disclosure that citizens can become aware of such payments, enabling them to hold their governments to account. Given that there is no discretionary ability for U.S regulators to remove project-level reporting from the U.S law, European policy-makers interested in ensuring a level playing field, must ignore big oil’s scare-tactics and ensure European law also requires disclosure down to the project level.

“If Shell and others have their way, far from creating effective transparency, these new laws could end-up aiding and abetting state looting by enabling payments to be hidden at the project level,” continued O’Donnell.

Global Witness is calling for:

  • Shell and ENI to publish full details about the arrangements they undertook to acquire OPL 245
  • Stop lobbying to weaken transparency requirements in the U.S, EU and elsewhere. This must include a divorce from the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) threat to sue the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should it come out with a rule consistent with the spirit of the Congress that wrote the law.
  • Policy-makers in Europe, together with the Commissioners of the U.S SEC must ensure that project-by-project disclosure remains a key part of the U.S and European extractive industry transparency laws.
  • Regulators to ensure that there are no provisions for countries to be exempt from the legislation as this would create a massive loophole, allowing corrupt regimes to pass blocking laws in their home countries – in effect, a ‘dictators’ charter’.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.