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Chevron Share Group Votes for More Transparency

A group of shareholders at an annual Chevron meeting voted in favor of more transparency in payments to host countries like Cambodia last week, in a move energy watchdogs hailed as a positive step.

Shareholders representing 160 million shares, about 7 percent of the total, voted in favor of the transparency proposal in an annual meeting in Houston, Texas, on May 26.

Chevron has exploratory interests in Cambodia’s offshore oil and gas and is facing increased pressure from the government to begin drilling. But money within the extractive industry, including in Cambodia, often remains veiled.

“With this level of shareholder support, Chevron can no longer ignore the call for transparency,” Ian Gary, an extractive industries policymaker for Oxfam America who attended the meeting, said in a press release. “We know oil revenues are often squandered through corruption, internal conflict and weak governance.”

Chevron paid more than $40 billion in taxes to governments around the world in 2008, according to Oxfam America, which filed a shareholder proposal for payment transparency within the company in December 2009.

“Once Chevron, which is a company that supports the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, takes into consideration the transparent payment disclosure policy, it will be more beneficial for the company and will set positive influence on oil explorers in Cambodia,” Mam Sambath, chairman of Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency, told VOA Khmer.

Transparency help communities understand the benefits of resource extraction, said Cheang Sokha, president of the Youth Resources Development Program. “Cambodian people need to know how big the resources are and the budget coming from the extraction, and what areas [of government] it will be used for.”

Ministry of Finance officials could not be reached for comment Friday, but lawmaker Cheam Yiep, who is head of the National Assembly’s finance committee, said the government’s overall position was one “in favor of transparency and good governance, especially in the extractive industry.”