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Oxfam Claims SEC Not Moving Fast Enough on Payment Disclosure Rule

Accused of not acting quickly on a disclosure rule for oil and mining companies that make payments to governments as part of their business practices, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) is being sued by Oxfam America Inc. Per its complaint filed last week, the international aid group says the agency should have issued a rule over three years ago and are violating the will of Congress, which called for the disclosure provision through the Dodd-Frank Act. Oxfam also stated that it is a shareholder in some of the companies that would be impacted by the SEC’s rule.

In 2012, the SEC issued a similar disclosure requirement, Release No. 34-67717, Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers. The rule, if it were implemented, would have required over 1,100 companies to file detailed reports on payments of $100,000 or more to U.S. and international governments. A year later, however, Release No. 34-67717 was vacated by a federal district court. According to the court, the rule violated the First Amendment rights of businesses and overstepped the authority given to the SEC through the Dodd-Frank Act. The agency did not file an appeal, but is expected to amend the rule that reflects the court’s decision.

In response to Oxfam’s complaint, an SEC spokesperson was unable to comment on until it was reviewed by staff members.

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