Shell challenges ‘difficult’ EU anti-corruption laws

Royal Dutch Shell is lobbying the EU to water down plans for new anti-corruption laws. In June 2011 the European Commission presented its proposal to curb corruption in the EU, […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Royal Dutch Shell is lobbying the EU to water down plans for new anti-corruption laws.

In June 2011 the European Commission presented its proposal to curb corruption in the EU, the so-called ‘anti-corruption package’.

The EC’s and European Parliament’s transparency rules would force firms to say how much they pay governments in countries where they operate.

Public procurement is the activity most vulnerable to corruption, according to OECD statistics, which could explain why the EU is so keen to introduce new laws.

But the oil group claims the plans will have a “limited impact” and is concerned about proposals “as currently drafted”, which ask for disclosure of payments to governments on a project level.

Simon Henry, CFO for Shell said: “We suggest breaking down payments to those made at the national, regional and local levels of government, which would support the anti-corruption agenda more effectively than project-level data.”

He added the EU should bring in a single disclosure threshold to avoid inconsistency and unnecessary costs. This would take into account the fact many firms pay high levels of tax, he claimed, mentioning that Shell paid more than $20 billion (£12.6bn) in direct taxes to governments in 2011.

Mr Henry added the EU disclosure rules could possibly clash with host governments laws “which limit or prohibit the disclosure of tax payments”.