Who is Behind Clean Energy’s Big Names? IACC Session Report

  • Publication date: 20 December 2022
  • Author: Open Ownership

Main outcomes of session

Highlights from panellist remarks

“There is a concern that the fast tracking of mining licences to meet net zero targets will compromise the integrity of screening processes; using BO information in licensing can help detect conflicts of interest or evidence of the use of shell companies.” – Marie Gay Ordenes

“There is a need to be able to cross-reference data because actors operate in more than one context. Data interoperability strengthens the dragnet for corrupt actors.” – Jen Lewis

“[From an audit drawing on BO data,] it became clear that [some] licences were not being used for the benefit of the people of Zambia, but for speculation. This stimulated a change in policy ... In this sense, the public register was a panacea for coming up with a new policy.” – Tobias Musonda

“[Transition minerals] present a fork in the road: if well governed, their extraction could lift tens of millions out of poverty, but if poorly governed, there are risks including civil conflict, erosion of trust, and a delayed transition.” – Tim Robinson

“BOT is not a magic bullet. It won’t help fight corruption right away. It is a good starting point, and data is only impactful if it is used to detect, deter, and penalise corrupt conduct. Complementary measures are also needed.” – Matthieu Solomon

“[Progress] did not stop at opening the BO register, but rather its establishment opened the floodgates for more work to be done on the issue. Namely, on the quality of the data on the register and on the possibility of making the data machine readable and in a format that was easier to work with.” – Tetiana Shevchuk

Questions from the floor and highlights from panellist responses

What are current trends in data and best practices around data usability, accessibility, and sanctions and enforcement in BOT regimes?

  • Tetiana: There should be a standard for the data, otherwise it’s garbage in, garbage out. A lack of penalties for non-disclosure and for inaccurate disclosure is a problem. A problem Ukraine faces is deciding who to fine – director, shareholder, or beneficial owner?
  • Tobias: In Zambia, the law provides for sanctions of USD 2,000 for failure to provide BO information, four years in jail, or both.
  • Jen: The US is looking at unique identifiers for companies, which, in theory, would allow you to use data in a cross-sectoral way and lays the basis for cross-referencing of data in global BO datasets.
  • Gay: The technical requests we receive from countries for support on verification and compliance indicate that data quality and the comprehensiveness of disclosure are still concerns for many.

Is the best practice to approach local communities at early stages, for example, before licences are awarded? An example is used from mining in Serbia.

  • Tobias: From our side, a minister must see that there is consent from communities before mining activity can take place.
  • Matthieu: When it comes to local communities, the biggest question is about social licence to operate. In areas prone to corruption, it can aggravate social impacts of mining.
  • Tim: There is a theme that BOT is not enough, and we all acknowledge that publishing is not enough to solve the problem and win the trust of host communities that will be impacted by the development of transition minerals. BHP is supporting the Disclosure to Development project, which aims at working with countries to enhance understanding and use of the data.

Why is a focus on ownership and control of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) an important element of the approach to transparency in the energy transition?

  • Matthieu: SOEs are an important and tricky topic, as we are seeing more countries establish SOEs and give them responsibilities for transition minerals; one important focus is on their partnerships, joint ventures, and contractors, as these are high-risk areas in terms of corruption.
  • Tobias: SOEs are critical. The Board of Directors are the ones that anchor the operations, and in our laws we have defined them as PEPs, so if you are in charge of running a public institution you are accountable if things go wrong.

Next page: Key recommendations for the future