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ExxonMobil and Chevron accused over tax secrecy


A refusal by US oil companies including ExxonMobil and Chevron to disclose their US tax payments is undermining the international effort to fight corruption in natural resources industries worldwide, according to transparency campaign groups. The chairman of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, whose participants include 51 governments and most major western companies, said it was “disappointing” that the largest US oil groups “did not provide the leadership expected from them”, in the latest sign that the 15-year-old initiative is under strain.

The Trump administration withdrew the US from the initiative in November, even though it said at the time it continued to “value the EITI as a critical tool to promote transparency, increase competitiveness, and combat corruption around the world”. Participants in the EITI commit to disclosing how much companies are paying, and governments are receiving, for natural resources developments, on the grounds that increased visibility of the flows of money will reduce opportunities for corruption and improve accountability.

Both Exxon and Chevron have disclosed their tax payments to other countries around the world but, like most other US companies, have chosen not to reveal their corporate tax payments to the US.

Several of the non-governmental organisations that are also involved in the initiative, including the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and Oxfam, complained the EITI’s work was being damaged because Exxon and Chevron had refused to follow “this most basic aspect of compliance” with its standards, even though the companies are represented on its board.

Danielle Brian of the POGO said that if the companies were allowed to continue to keep their US taxes under wraps, without any adverse consequences, “that’s the beginning of the end of the legitimacy of the EITI”.

The issue will be debated at a board meeting of the EITI on June 28. In a statement responding to the complaints last week, Fredrik Reinfeldt, the chairman of the initiative, said Exxon and Chevron’s position was “disappointing”, but he recommended that they should not be removed from the board or face other punishment.

Zorka Milin of Global Witness said US companies set an example for others. “The US has always been a leader in anti-corruption and transparency policies, and it is sad to see some of that starting to unwind now,” she said.

Exxon said corporate tax returns “contain complex, proprietary and competitive information that nearly all companies choose to keep confidential”, and the US Internal Revenue Service had been explicit in telling the EITI that “corporate tax reporting in the US would be strictly voluntary”.

The company said some members of the EITI were trying to undermine the initiative “by attempting to remove other committed members who [hold] differing views of how to advance global transparency objectives”.

Chevron said it had a longstanding commitment to promoting revenue transparency, and disclosed other payments in the US such as its permit fees, but its tax payments were “confidential”.

Established in 2003, the EITI has 51 member countries, including large resource-holders such as Kazakhstan, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the UK, Norway and Germany.

Oil companies have been vocal supporters of the EITI, and BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Equinor are also represented on its board. Exxon and Chevron also backed the initiative from the beginning; Exxon said in 2008 that revenue transparency and accountability were “critically important”.

Campaign groups have suggested the reason the US companies will not disclose their payments to the IRS is because they are paying so little, or receiving rebates. Shell and BP have disclosed their tax payments to the US, and in 2016, a difficult year for the oil industry, Shell E&P received a rebate of $239m, while BP America received $16.6m.

Jana Morgan of the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable said: ”Why is the US the only country where Exxon and Chevron won’t disclose this information? . . . They don’t want US citizens to know if we are getting a good deal or not.”


8 Comments on "ExxonMobil and Chevron accused over tax secrecy"

  1. Duncan Idaho on Wed, 6th Jun 2018 3:54 pm 

    Why Corporations Are Psychotic

  2. Go Speed Racer on Wed, 6th Jun 2018 8:43 pm 

    If Trump won’t reveal his USA taxes,
    then why should Exxon and Chevron?

  3. JuanP on Wed, 6th Jun 2018 8:50 pm 

    It doesn’t matter at all. We will continue breeding and consuming unsustainably no matter what. Back to the pony show!

  4. Go Speed Racer on Wed, 6th Jun 2018 8:58 pm 

    The corporate psychopath article is
    from 2011. Bernie lost to Hillary, and
    Hillary lost to Trump.
    (But Bernie would have defeated Trump).

    Now the entire Supreme Court and
    The federal courts have been stacked by
    the republicans, with Banksters and
    fundamentalist preachers. The
    Constitutional Amendment will never get
    passed. And Bernie doesn’t do anything
    anymore. And Trump will get a 2nd term.

    Your only safe pathway forwards, is to become
    Extrmemely wealthy, say a net worth of
    $85 million or so.

    Because all the poor people are screwed,
    so just go and be a rich person. If you
    Aren’t rich, obviously your lazy and are
    smoking pit and living on welfare so you
    deserve to be poor.

    The Republicans

  5. Go Speed Racer on Wed, 6th Jun 2018 8:59 pm 

    smoking pot

  6. Sissyfuss on Wed, 6th Jun 2018 10:56 pm 

    In a corporatocracy it is not the citizens who write the rules or escape from their tax burden. Know your place and you’ll feel so much better. We promise.

  7. deadly on Thu, 7th Jun 2018 4:48 am 

    Gotta keep drilling more wells to maintain production numbers.

    The increase in the number of wells means one thing: depletion.

    If you don’t keep adding wells, you won’t get as much oil.

    So the well count goes from 11,000 to 14,000 but the production remains about the same.

    That is what happens. Texas has a well count of 176,000 with a average of 13 bpd last I looked at the Texas numbers.

    Takes 110 years to drill a couple of hundred thousand wells in Texas.

    From time to time there is a good well, 8000 bpd or more. Those numbers will add up fast with a thousand wells pumping eight thousand bpd.

    For the most part, all Bakken wells are going to pump 200 bpd, then depletion sets in, after four years, you are maybe pumping forty barrels per day.

    Times 14,000 is 560,000 bpd, a drop of fifty percent.

    That will happen and does happen

    You’ll need 28,000 wells.

    Great and glorious tales are told of untold amounts of oil in the ground, but at the end of the day, the stories told are more fiction than fact.

    I cry even more. It is excruciatingly depressing and it never stops. lol

    The ineluctable conclusion: You have to keep drilling for oil if you want some because after you use it, it’s gone.

    It keeps going gone too.

    The handwriting is on the wall.

    We’re ignorant of our ignorance.

    Speak for yourself, sailor.

  8. deadly on Thu, 7th Jun 2018 5:00 am 

    Oops, on the wrong story, wrong tab.

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