Bono hits oil companies at CGI for blocking anti-corruption rules

ONE’s cofounder Bono took aim at the oil industry today for trying to kill new rules that would help prevent corruption by requiring oil, gas and mining companies to make public what they pay for the rights to extract natural resources in developing countries.  

Speaking on a panel moderated by President Bill Clinton at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, Bono called out Exxon and Chevron, along with the rest of the American Petroleum Institute, for suing to block rules issued by the SEC in the wake of the passage of bipartisan US legislation which mandates disclosure of payments made to foreign government for the exploitation of oil, gas and minerals.

 “We know corruption is killing more kids than TB, AIDS, and malaria put together. There is a vaccine and it’s called transparency,” said Bono. 

Addressing the oil companies directly, Bono applauded the work some have done in supporting funding for AIDS and malaria prevention, but he also spoke to the hypocrisy of helping the poor on one hand, while hurting them on the other by blocking this legislation.

“I’m no cranky anti-corporation critic here,” Bono said. “I implore the people in this room, from Exxon, from Chevron… You can’t have it both ways. You can’t give alms to the poor on one level and have your hands on their throats on another.”

Watch a recording of the session here: 

Similar transparency legislation was passed recently in Europe and is widely supported by transparency and anti-corruption activists in Africa.

Some of the poorest people in the world are living in countries that have some of the world’s richest natural resources in the form of oil, gas and minerals, but millions of people in these countries remain mired in poverty because of shady deals that allow corrupt officials to enrich themselves.

Speaking of the fight against corruption in Africa, he added: “This new rising class in Africa, this entrepreneurial class, they will remember who stood with them and who stood against them.” 

Learn more about ONE’s work on extractives transparency here.