Two years ago, the United States Congress took a major step forward in promoting transparency and anti-corruption in the international financial system when they passed provision 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the Cardin-Lugar Amendment). This provision requires all companies in the US that extract oil, gas, and minerals from foreign countries to provide the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) with annual reports on all payments that they make to the US and foreign governments. Although there are many arguments for supporting the Cardin-Lugar Amendment, the key reason that Congress approved this provision is the hope that it better enable people living in the third world to hold their various governments accountable. To this day, the third world remains heavily dependent on the revenue that governments collect from the exportation of natural resources to fund social programs. However, too often this money is misused or wasted due to un-transparent systems and corrupt governments. Senator Richard Luger perfectly captured the rationale behind the Cardin-Lugar Amendment when he stated that:
The essential issue at stake is a citizen's right to hold its government to account. Americans would not tolerate the Congress denying them access to revenues our Treasury collects. We cannot force foreign governments to treat their citizens as we would hope, but this amendment would make it much more difficult to hide the truth.
Because of Dodd-Frank Act (the Cardin-Lugar Amendment), people living in developing countries will be better able to hold their governments accountable because they will have indisputable proof whenever their elected officials misuse national funds.
Despite the overwhelming list of moral and economic arguments that support the Cardin-Lugar Amendment, the oil industry has done everything in its power to prevent the SEC from enforcing this rule. Big oil has already vowed to sue the SEC the minute that the commission begins implementing new regulations based on the Cardin-Lugar Amendment. Additionally, lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute have made extravagantly outlandish claims that oil companies will lose hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as be forced to violate foreign laws, if Dodd-Frank Act (the Cardin-Lugar Amendment) is implemented. These allegations have yet to be proven.
But despite big oil's bullying, we won! Thanks to your actions in August, a huge victory for transparency and anti-corruption was won when the SEC voted on the final rules necessary to implement the Cardin-Lugar Amendment, a vital move that will allow citizens, especially of developing nations, access to information to hold their governments accountable and fight corruption.
Jubilee USA, along with the ONE Campaign, Oxfam and Publish What You Pay, Jubilee USA delivered 110,000 signatures to the SEC - and that petition was even mentioned in the SEC's decision.
Click here to see our petition.