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US SEC to again propose disclosure rules for oil, gas companies

Washington — Nearly a decade after they were passed by the US Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to again propose Wednesday rules requiring multinational oil and natural gas companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments.

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The rules, mandated by Section 1504 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, have been twice adopted by the SEC, overturned by a federal court, and repealed by President Donald Trump. A Republican bill to permanently repeal the rules failed to make it to the House floor for a vote before Democrats took over in January.

SEC commissioners will again vote Wednesday to implement Section 1504 "relating to disclosure of payments by resource extraction issuers," according an agency meeting notice.

The rule, signed into law by former President Barack Obama in July 2010, was intended to bring transparency to bribes paid to foreign governments in exchange for oil, gas and mining rights overseas. But industry groups, including the American Petroleum Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce, argued that it would hurt US producers, hindering potential multinational operations.

The rule requires all companies traded on US exchanges and involved in the commercial development of oil, gas or minerals to disclose payments made to any government and file annual reports with the SEC.

The rule was formally adopted by the SEC in August 2012, but vacated by the US District Court for the District of Columbia in July 2013. The SEC adopted a new rule in June 2016, which was repealed by Trump in February 2017.

Trump's repeal did not change the underlying law within Dodd-Frank.

In January 2018, the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill by Representative Bill Huizenga, Republican-Michigan, to permanently repeal the disclosure requirements, but it was never voted on by the full House.

-- Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Manish Parashar, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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