Canada will require its oil, gas and mining companies to report payments to foreign governments in an effort to reduce official corruption in resource-rich countries, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Wednesday.
The draft rules, which are expected to include fines for violations, were unveiled amid nagging accusations against Canadian companies of bribery, corruption and failing to follow laws in other countries.
They were announced hours after the European Parliament passed new legislation to require European miners and loggers to publicize in full payments made to governments.
Harper made the announcement at a business roundtable with mining industry executives in London, ahead of a G8 summit in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.
The new rules are expected to bring Canada in line with its G8 counterparts, however, details are sketchy and the regulations will only be implemented after consultations with industry and other stakeholders.
G8 leaders pledged in 2011 to consider beefing up scrutiny of companies' payments to foreign governments, which critics say is badly needed to expose corruption especially in developing economies eager to exploit their natural resources..
"This information is essential for citizens to hold their governments accountable," Harper said.
"This has long been a priority for Canada. We put great emphasis in Canada on corporate social responsibility."
Canadian companies undertake more than half of the mining in the world, according to Ottawa, with some 8,000 mines in more than 100 countries.
Two Canadian firms, Niko Resources and Griffiths Energy, were each recently fined about $10 million under Canadian laws for corruption in Bangladesh and Chad, respectively.
A proposed amendment to the act now before parliament would triple the maximum sentence for company executives convicted of wrongdoing to 14 years.
Harper's proposed transparency reforms would further raise the bar for companies operating overseas.