Momentum is building across the European Union to replicate the corporate transparency enforcements contained in the US Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, with draft proposals expected by November, according to EU officials.
“Dodd-Frank Plus”, the shorthand name for the international replication of the US law, could require fuller disclosure of money flows between companies and governments.
Klaus Rudischhauser, a senior European Commission official dealing with Africa told the Financial Times: “The process is launched.
“We will make a proposal to include mandatory country-by-country disclosure by November, with Dodd-Frank as a minimum [standard],” Mr Rudischhauser added, speaking on the fringes of a Paris conference of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a global public-private coalition that is pushing for fuller documentation of transactions between resource companies and governments.
“The question at the moment is, should we include other companies not in the extractive industries such as forestry or consumer goods, and also should there be disclosure of profits in addition to disclosure of taxes,” Mr Rudischhauser added.
Stephen O’Brien, the UK’s junior minister for overseas development, said: “The [UK] coalition government believes in everyone adhering to the highest standards in oil and mining. That is why our chancellor George Osborne said that we will be seeking new disclosures standards at the EU level.”
Both Mr Osborne and Vince Cable, business secretary, are backing the adoption at the European level of rules that would have the same impact as the Dodd-Frank bill, officials in London said.
A German official at the Paris conference said that Berlin was also pressing the European Commission to push forward with draft proposals.
George Soros, the billionaire financier and philanthropist, told the FT that the Dodd-Frank provisions are being replicated in the EU in “truly the first international regulation of its kind”.
Mr Soros expects it will be adopted in some form this year. The foundation of Mr Soros – along with those of the rock star activist Bono and Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim – have thrown their weight behind the EITI, and are championing its evolution into a global legal framework.
Mr Soros called on the various laws to be almost identical so that companies registered in London, New York, Frankfurt and other exchanges “would be adhering to the same regulations, even filling out the same pieces of paper despite it being separate [national] laws”.
Companies have reacted critically to the idea of Dodd-Frank Plus. Peter Eigen, the outgoing chairman of EITI, said that resource company bosses who sit on the EITI board threatened to resign if he pushed for Dodd-Frank-type legislation in Europe.
Peter Voser, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, told the EITI event that Dodd-Frank threatened to “destroy” the existing transparency movement because it violated national laws.
Additional reporting by George Parker in London
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