INTERNATIONAL campaigners have come up with a guide to “red flags” for exposing corruption in the mining and oil industries.

Global Witness launched what it called a groundbreaking new tool called Finding The Missing Millions to check whether corporate giants, including North Sea operators, are delivering on promises of tax.

The group said payments from firms such as Shell, BP and Glencore amount to hundreds of billions of dollars and are a vital source of government revenue.

Yet Global Witness added that all too often the money gets siphoned off by elites instead of benefitting people in resource-rich countries.

Now big companies in Europe and Canada have to publish their payments.

This data can be used to check if money gets to communities.

Dominic Eagleton, senior campaigner at Global Witness, explained: “Scrutinising payment data from extractive companies has the power to change the lives of millions of people around the world.

“This is money for investing in hospitals, doctors, medicines, teachers, schools, universities, roads and railways.

“Finding The Missing Millions will help people use these game-changing new disclosures to hold governments and industry accountable for vital public funds.”

The handbook features 10 different methods for using data from oil, gas and mining projects to check whether companies are paying the right amount to governments. Each method features “real life” case studies to show how this can be done.

One example looks at payments that are earmarked for development projects to benefit mining-affected communities in South Goa, India. The payments were due to be transferred by the mining company Vedanta to a local district authority.

Previously, a lack of transparency made it impossible for local people to know how much they were owed from Vedanta’s mine, and to follow the money into government accounts. By using a method shown in the handbook, the group revealed that Vedanta owed $2.1 million (£1.6m) to local communities.

Mr Eagleton added: “Secrecy in the oil and mining industries has enabled corrupt elites to loot hundreds of billions of dollars while people in resource-rich countries live in poverty.

“Revenue transparency can help put an end to this scandal, but the full benefits will only be realised if people actively use the data. Citizens, campaigners, journalists and others can now take advantage of this important new tool to hold the industry accountable, and ultimately ensure that communities reap the full benefits from their resources.”