Business

Honda among big firms that disclose too little on operations abroad, watchdog says

Reuters

Honda Motor Co. is among the world’s biggest companies that disclose little or no financial details about their operations abroad, according to a report by Transparency International, which also singled out Chinese companies and pointed to U.S. tech giants like Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc. as well.

The Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog named Honda, Bank of China Ltd., Bank of Communications Co., Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. and Sberbank of Russia as the five least transparent companies.

Bank of China could not be reached for comment on the report. The other four companies declined to comment.

“We need more transparency from multinational companies, whose power in the world economy closely rivals the biggest countries,” said Transparency International Chairman Jose Ugaz.

“By not responding to people’s demands for greater transparency and accountability, companies risk harming their brand and losing customers,” he warned.

Around three-quarters of the 124 companies assessed do not disclose the taxes they pay in foreign countries and nearly half publish no information on revenues abroad, the report said.

The companies were ranked based on disclosure of their measures to prevent corruption, information about subsidiaries and holdings, and information about financial operations abroad.

By those criteria, European companies performed best. Italy’s Eni, Britain’s Vodafone and Norway’s Statoil were the leaders.

“We are committed to providing as much information and insight as possible to support informed public debate on issues such as corporate governance, anticorruption programs and corporate taxation,” a Vodafone spokesman said.

While there were six Chinese companies among the 10 worst performers, U.S. corporations were also singled out.

Warren Buffet’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway was ranked the sixth least transparent multinational, and the report said major tech companies also performed relatively poorly.

“Surprisingly, the sector that makes greater transparency possible is one of the least transparent,” the nongovernmental organization said. Amazon.com, Apple Inc., Google and IBM Corp. all scored less than 3 out of 10.

An IBM spokesman said the company was publishing a full list of every subsidiary and country in which it does business every year. That list was part of IBM’s annual report.

The other U.S. companies cited declined to comment or were unavailable when asked for their reaction. Some did not want to respond until they had seen the complete report.

A spokesperson for Japan’s NTT Corp., which was also among the bottom 10, said: “We want to continue to work toward appropriate disclosures.”

Transparency said the world’s biggest oil, gas and mining companies were not yet ready for transparency rules that will enter into force across the European Union next July.

Those regulations require extractive companies to report payments such as taxes to governments on a country-by-country and project-by-project basis. In the United States, similar measures are planned, but implementation has been delayed.

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