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House leaders combat 'resource curse'

Jan. 17, 2013 at 8:30 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Congressional Democrats filed an amicus brief supporting disclosure rules for companies involved in the extraction of resources in developing countries.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year ruled that oil and natural gas companies must disclose payments made to foreign governments. The SEC said it was adopting the rules through the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act.

The group of 12 congressional Democrats filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit supporting the SEC's ruling. They said their measure was to combat a so-called resource curse, whereby developing countries may use natural resources to prop up corrupt regimes.

"Investors and the public need to be able to fully evaluate whether a company has properly addressed the commercial, political, and legal risks it faces when operating around the globe in environments where corruption is rife and rule of law weak," they argue in their brief.

The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing more than 500 oil and natural gas companies, said the decision was a blow to the U.S. energy sector. The SEC said API's argument was "too 'speculative and unsupported by evidence' to warrant a stay," however.

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