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Global Witness’s new handbook helps uncover corruption in extractive industries

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Global Mining Review,

Global Witness has unveiled ‘Finding the Missing Millions’, a ground-breaking tool for rooting out corruption and tax avoidance in the oil, gas and mining industries. This handbook helps people use new sources of data to expose questionable extractive deals and hold power to account.

Thanks to dogged campaigning by anti-corruption groups, many resource companies including Shell, BP and Glencore now publish details about the payments they make to governments, such as taxes and royalties, wherever they operate in the world.

These payments amount to hundreds of billions of dollars and are a vital source of government revenue. Yet, all too often the money gets siphoned off by elites instead of benefitting people in resource-rich countries.

Dominic Eagleton, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness, said: “Scrutinising payment data from extractive companies has the power to change the lives of millions of people around the world. This is money for investing in hospitals, doctors, medicines, teachers, schools, universities, roads and railways. Finding The Missing Millions will help people use these game changing new disclosures to hold governments and industry accountable for vital public funds.”

The handbook features 10 different methods for using data from oil, gas and mining projects to check whether companies are paying the right amount to governments. Each method features ‘real life’ case studies to show how this can be done.

One example looks at payments that are earmarked for development projects to benefit mining-affected communities in South Goa, India. The payments were due to be transferred by the mining company Vedanta to a local district authority.

Previously, a lack of transparency made it impossible for local people to know how much they were owed from Vedanta’s mine, and to follow the money into government accounts. By using a method shown in the handbook, we revealed that Vedanta owed US$2.1 million to local communities.

The method for tracking community-level payments will be useful in other resource-producing countries, many of which have similar localised payment systems.

Eagleton added: “Secrecy in the oil and mining industries has enabled corrupt elites to loot hundreds of billions of dollars while people in resource-rich countries live in poverty. Revenue transparency can help put an end to this scandal, but the full benefits will only be realised if people actively use the data. Citizens, campaigners, journalists and others can now take advantage of this important new tool to hold the industry accountable, and ultimately ensure that countries and communities reap the full benefits from their resources.”

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