Global Witness: DR Congo acts on transparency pledges but more disclosure needed
Source: Global Witness
Author: Daniel Balint-Kurti
Date: 1st August 2011
The recent publication by the Democratic Republic of Congo of dozens of its oil and mining contracts online shows promising commitment to its recent transparency pledges said Global Witness today. Particularly welcome is the publication in the past fortnight of one of the country’s most controversial deals – the attribution of previously confiscated oil blocks to two previously unknown companies. These are positive signs, but there is a long way to go – the government has still not published several key contracts, and Global Witness is today publishing the major amendment to a multi-billion dollar Chinese deal.
In the past fortnight, the government published the May 2010 Production Sharing Agreement with Caprikat and Foxwhelp, two companies registered in the secretive offshore tax haven of the British Virgin Islands. Global Witness has been urging the government to publish this contract for some time, so that citizens can be confident that the resources will be used to build the Congolese economy. The move comes after Congo passed a May 20 decree promising to disclose all natural resource contracts within 60 days of coming into effect.
Now Congo must go further and disclose all the ultimate owners of these companies, rather than allowing them to be obscured by the secrecy rules of the British Virgin Islands. The same transparency over ownership should apply to all other companies, as a further bulwark against the danger of corrupt practices.
Congo has also published documents relating to a $6 billion deal between China and Congo, under which China is to provide Congo with key infrastructure such as dams and roads in return for millions of tonnes of copper and cobalt. So far, however, some of the most important documents relating to the deal have not been officially published – including the detailed April 2008 contract between Congo and two Chinese state-owned companies, China Railway Group and Sinohydro, and its October 2009 amendment.
Global Witness recently obtained a copy of the October 2009 amendment – which changed the value of the deal from $9 billion to $6 billion – and is making the document available online today. While much information has now been disclosed, Global Witness remains concerned about a lack of clarity regarding key aspects of the deal, including how the minerals are to be priced.
“It’s firmly in the public interest that government extractive contracts are published. Shining more light on the deals struck can only add to confidence that the sector is delivering for the Congolese people,” said Daniel Balint-Kurti, Congo Campaigner from Global Witness. “Greater transparency is vital to transforming the mineral and oil wealth of the Congo into real development.”
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