Journalism in the Public Interest

Oil Companies That Gave ‘Bonuses’ to Libya Also Lobbied Against Disclosure Rules


Black smoke billows from a petrochemical factory on fire following clashes between pro- and anti-Qaddafi militants close to the eastern Libyan oil town of Ras Lanuf on March 12, 2011. (Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)

Multinational companies operating in Libya have had to deal with many obstacles, including a government rife with corruption that often asked for what amounted to bribes.

Sometimes those companies balked; sometimes they paid them, the New York Times reported today.

The Times story doesn’t actually mention the word “bribes,” using instead the phrase “payoffs to keep doing business.” U.S. companies are barred from paying bribes to foreign officials by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

In 2009, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi demanded that oil companies operating in Libya pay him to offset the cost of reparations to victims of Libyan terror attacks, according to the Times. (Several major oil companies had also previously lobbied against the law that ensured American victims would be compensated by Libya, arguing this could harm business ties between the two countries.)

The Times cited an example of two oil companies who made other payments to Libya:

In 2008, Occidental Petroleum, based in California, paid a $1 billion “signing bonus” to the Libyan government as part of 30-year agreement. A company spokesman said it was not uncommon for firms to pay large bonuses for long-term contracts.

The year before, Petro-Canada, a large Canadian oil company, made a similar $1 billion payment after Libyan officials granted it a 30-year oil exploration license, according to diplomatic cables and company officials.

The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill includes a disclosure rule that would require such payments to be disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Occidental Petroleum was one of several companies that lobbied against that rule. Oil companies have argued that the disclosure law will hurt their competitiveness ($) and perhaps violate laws in the countries they are dealing with.

Last fall, representatives from ExxonMobil, Anadarko Petroleum, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil and Occidental—all members of the American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas trade group—met with SEC officials to raise objections to the rule, the Wall Street Journal noted at the time.

According to a memo published by the SEC [PDF] after the meeting, the disclosure rules would apply to the seven oil companies operating in Libya that report to the commission. They are: Hess Corporation, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, Shell, Eni, Husky Oil, Petro-Canada, Repsol, StatoilHydro and Canadian Occidental.

The American Petroleum Institute has touted a separate transparency program called the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which it describes as a “voluntary, multilateral, multi-stakeholder global effort to promote revenue transparency in resource-rich countries.”

Libya has not joined that initiative. Neither have Occidental or Petro-Canada, the two oil companies that the Times story said had made payments.

Great stroy! Good work reporters.

Just another example of big business doling out monies to whomever they believe can deliver a profit regardless of moral issues or civil rights. Our necessity to be in Libya now is based upon greedy US business people selling arms and paying off dictators for oil rights to these 21 countries.

It’d be fun to know what percentage of oil exec’s go to church on Sunday mornings and whether they pony up their 10% tithes?

We really are clueless of how deep the corruption goes,but I would like to share a interview with a top oil expert. I hope it’s permitted because this needs to be public news! “A histotory of rigged & fraudulent oil prices & what it can teach us about gold & silver. If you always wonderd why news like this never makes the MSM this interview will explain why. Americans have been played as fools by the billionaires club for hundrends of years & we are being played again.

Cynthia Berger

March 25, 2011, 7:27 p.m.

Please post a list of the stockholders of these corporations. They need to be held to their mantra of “personal responsibility” (the one they insist upon for the rest of us) for the consequences of investing in companies that support terrorists. Can you get lists of stockholders? Not only do they profit off of terrorism when they(the companies they support are called “people” according to the Supremes) pay Gadhafi so he can pay the money to settle the Lockerbie issue, so that he doesn’t have to dig into his own pocket. They prefer that the USA not go to war against him, and I’m sure they are a big part of the reason Obama hesitated. I can just hear the threats.

Mickey Smith

I linked to the website you posted.  I haven’t had a chance to finish the intire interview, but what I have read so far is sickening.  The Henry Kissinger quote is prophetic.  I spoke with an older friend today about what I had read, and she was quite aware of the subject.  She had learned of this in the 1970’s.  She is a generation ahead of me, and according to her it was common knowledge.  It seems that while my fathers’ peers were hiking with the Sierra Club it slipped thier minds.  I updated her, informing her of the massive scale of the corruption.

I encourage anyone with desire for the truth go to this website.  It isn’t all new, but it is better than piecing it together in small portions. 

And for the sake of all things good, tell the next generation now!  Tell the kids before they form unreal ideas of what America is. Teach them that when they grow up they will have to always fight this malignancy.

By the way, our food supply is already owned, the copyright on seeds has been granted, and enforced by the courts.  See before you harvest a seed from a tomato or corn, you could be sued.

James B Storer

March 28, 2011, 4:11 p.m.

Fine report, ProPublica. 
Mickey Smith (comment 25 Mar), your site reference is super fine and, and I agree with the b Rutgers comment that the content is sickening.  I dug it out and have really just scanned it (my eyes need a rest before returning, as it is a lengthy study.)  A strange concept nags at me as I read it:  What if, beginning about the third grade, we remove all present “social studies,” “history,” and “government” text books, and use this website as the basic text clear through high school.  It is a long piece and holds plenty of information and can serve as a basis for further research by students.  This would infuse truth, debunk present misconceptions, and go a long way toward solving some of our problems that we of our older generations seem unable to do.  —-Skartishu, Granby MO

You will also find heaps of data There is so much Martin has wrote as a political prisoner, I would read “behind the curtain-the full monty”,“tipping point”, & “how-when” 3/2011.  Also follow the web site I posted 1st for follow up & always be sure we are being watched by DHS as possible groups that have ties to radical views even if we carry or quote from the constitution,via a retired police officer who’s training was to include group like us as a threat to government.

Also many will find very good info on these banks & more from Bob Chapman at Also has done more toward exposing the banks corruption that spans years of documents that the federal reserve keeps for years, then they destroy them to cover up billions of mis-managed funds lost during audits from with in the group of banks the feds over sees.

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