UK lawmakers consider probe into transparency of mining firms

Sun May 19, 2013 11:36am EDT
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By Clara Ferreira-Marques

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's parliament will this week consider whether to probe the transparency of oil and mining firms listed in London, an issue highlighted by corruption probes at emerging market miners which lawmakers fear have dented the stock market's reputation.

The chairman of parliament's Committee for Business, Innovation and Skills said on Sunday he would this week propose an inquiry into issues including governance and anticorruption protection at mining and oil companies.

The probe could start before the end of the parliamentary session in July. The committee will, though, have to decide the specific terms of the inquiry.

Parliamentarian Adrian Bailey said those set to give evidence are expected to include executives from Kazakh miner ENRC ENRC.L and Indonesia-focused miner Bumi BUMIP.L, both facing corruption probes that have hit already beleaguered shares. The banks that advised the two could also be called.

He said the committee had already been considering a look at the extractive industries but the current turmoil around ENRC - now facing a buyout bid from its founders that would take it private after just over five years - had given the inquiry "added significance".

"We will be looking at the issue of transparency in general. It is not an inquiry looking into just ENRC and Bumi," Bailey said, adding that the concerns raised by those two miners would, however, be central.

"We have not yet defined the focus of the inquiry, or indeed decided whether we are going ahead."

Parliamentary committees often bring political pressure to bear on companies by publishing reports and calling witnesses to evidence sessions. While their reports have no legislative weight, findings are aimed at influencing government policy.   Continued...

Exterior view of the office building that houses Bumi Plc in London September 25, 2012. REUTERS/Neil Hall