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Canada unveils final anti-corruption law for the extractive sector

Canada has released a final version of its rules governing extractive sector transparency, which forces all publicly listed local miners to report payments including taxes, royalties, fees and production entitlements of $100,000 or more to governments both home and abroad.

The Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act, which came into force in June last year, requires large Canadian oil, gas and mining companies to publish detailed records of the payments they make overseas and locally.

Sums paid to aboriginal governments in Canada will not fall under the law until June 1, 2017.

The legislation is estimated to cover the nearly 2,000 natural resource companies whose businesses are registered in Canada or trade on Toronto’s stock exchange.

The legislation covers the nearly 2,000 natural resource companies registered in Canada or trading on Toronto’s stock exchange.

The main revise, explains Carole Gilbert, an associate at global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, is that the document now clarifies the legislation’s main intent. The idea, she adds, is to capture the key phases of commercial activity, extending from prospecting and exploration to closure, remediation and reclamation.

“Even if a business is not directly engaged in the commercial development of oil, gas or minerals, reporting obligations will apply to entities it directly or indirectly controls that are engaged in such development, in Canada or abroad,” Gilbert says.

The legislation seeks to hold authorities and companies accountable for the vast sums of money exchanged for the rights to develop natural resources. Those revenues function as the lifeblood for the resource-rich economies of developing countries, but details are often scant about precisely how much officials take in and how they appropriate those funds.

A new version of the document that specifies the steps to be taken during the technical reporting process, has also been released.

The update comes on the heels of a New York Times front-page story that shone a spotlight on a Canadian mining company accused of serious crimes in Guatemala.

It also follows Liberal MP John McKay’s call for stricter oversight of local miners abroad. The politician has long been pushing for the creation of an ombudsman position that could investigate claims against Canadian companies abroad and impose sanctions.