After nearly two years of postponement, Congress has called for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to immediately enact the transparency rules of the July 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. These provisions include Section 1504, which requires energy companies to publish transactions to governments; thus, the threat of illicit flows from extractive industries will be reduced.
The bipartisan letter from Congress was signed by 58 members and reprimanded the SEC for its delay in enforcing the two sections, as the original deadline established by the law was April 2011. According to the letter,
“There is no clear reason for the delay. It has been nearly 18 months since the proposed rules were issued, and the comment period for both rules closed over a year ago. The Commission has received nearly 200,000 comments between the two rules, but the majority of these are simple messages from American citizens urging the Commission to issue strong final rules without delay. The Commission has had more than enough time to consider and respond to all of the substantive comments from industry, civil society, investors and others.”
Though the letter does conclusively ensure enforcement of the provisions, it includes an ultimatum for SEC Chairman Schapiro: either the Commission can vote on Sections 1502 and 1504, or it must explain the reason for its excessive postponement. If this reason is as absent as the 58 Congress members and the head of the U.S. Global Witness office Corinna Gilfillan insist, only the first option is viable. As Gilfillan stated of the delay,
“The SEC has run out of excuses. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro must start showing some leadership and get these rules out. As a result of the SEC’s foot-dragging, the US has gone from being a global leader on efforts to break the links between natural resources, conflict and corruption to becoming an obstacle. This is hurting some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”
As of record, the SEC is refusing to release a publication date for the final provisions.
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