New anti-corruption laws tabled in Senate

A new law proposed by the Greens would require Australian oil, gas, mining and logging companies to publically disclose any payments made to foreign governments.

Today, Greens leader Christine Milne will table the Corporations Amendment (Publish What You Pay) bill, SMH reported.

The law, if passed, would require Australian companies to report any payment of $100,000 or more to a foreign government body for access to resources, with the aim of preventing corruption in Australia and offshore.

This bill would bring Australia in line with mandatory reporting standards in the US, Canada, Europe and the UK.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) would publish reports, and false information would be punishable under existing rules for misleading financial statements.

Similar laws will come into effect in the UK next year, after international lobbying efforts by NGOs, trade unions, and aid groups to introduce “publish what you pay” laws for extractive industries, and similar laws have been in effect in the US since 2010.

The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors and the Financial Services Council both support mandatory reporting of payments to foreign governments.

At present both BHP Billiton and Oz Minerals are involved in investigations relating to their business dealings with government officials in Cambodia.

“With Australian firms heavily involved in extractive industries overseas, including in countries where resource extraction is often linked to poverty, instability and corruption, this bill is an important transparency mechanism,” Milne said.

“This bill reduces the opportunity for corruption and other illicit activities by requiring the reporting of payments that have previously been in the dark.”

Image: Udaipurtimes

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