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Oil-Payment Disclosure Delay by U.S. SEC Criticized by Democrats

The Securities and Exchange Commission was criticized by Senate Democrats for delaying a rule requiring energy companies to disclose what they pay to foreign governments for access to oil.

Oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc, based in The Hague, are lobbying to limit what they must reveal, asking for exemptions for nations whose laws demand secrecy. Shareholders including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and billionaire George Soros support the planned rule, saying it would help reduce the risk of fraud, bribery, nepotism and mismanagement.

The SEC rule, part of the the Dodd-Frank Act overhauling financial regulation, was due in April 2011. Democratic Senators Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, Charles Schumer of New York, John Kerry of Massachusetts, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Carl Levin of Michigan sent a letter today complaining of the delay.

“We urge the SEC to resist pressure to release a weak rule,” the senators said. “The final rule should apply to all countries and companies with no exemptions.”

-- Editors: Daniel Enoch, Steve Geimann

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