Lloyd’s of London join Aon, Willis & Mitsui on new Burma ‘Dirty List’
37 companies have been added to the ‘Dirty List’ published today by the Burma Campaign UK. A total of 95 companies feature on the list. The ‘Dirty List’ exposes companies that are directly or indirectly helping to finance Burma’s brutal military dictatorship.
Other major companies named and shamed include Total Oil, DHL, Orient Express, Schlumberger, Lonely Planet, Daewoo, Austrian Airlines and Hutchison Whampoa, whose subsidiaries include Superdrug and 3 Mobile.
“These companies are helping to keep Burma’s military dictatorship in power,” said John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “Foreign investment and trade doesn’t help the people of Burma, it hurts them. The regime spends half its budget on the military and just 19p per person per year on health.”
The Burma Campaign UK and Federation of Trade Unions – Burma (Burma’s TUC) are planning a new initiative in the coming year to persuade the insurance industry to end its involvement in Burma.
The 37 new companies added to the list are mainly the result of new information, rather than any significant surge of investment or trade with Burma in the past year. However, the number of British companies still involved in Burma highlights the failure of British government policy. The government has called on companies not to invest or trade with Burma, and in June 2003 Prime Minister Tony Blair renewed that call. But since Labour came to power imports from Burma have more than tripled, rising from £17.3million in 1998 to £62.2m in 2003.
Around 20 of the companies on last year’s ‘Dirty List’ have since pulled out or ended their involvement in Burma, including British American Tobacco, PwC, Carnival/P&O, WPP, and Ernst & Young. Many of these companies now feature on the updated ‘Clean List’ of companies who have pulled out or have policies not to trade with Burma.
Announcing that Ernst & Young no longer had any involvement in Burma, Chairman Nick Land told the Burma Campaign: “I would also add that I share your disgust with the regime in Burma and applaud your efforts and those of other organisations in helping stimulate international pressure for change.”
“In the absence of strong European sanctions it is significant that so many European companies refuse to get involved in Burma,” said John Jackson. “We will be increasing pressure on those companies that remain. No British or European company should be funding a regime whose soldiers rape women and children, which imprisons and tortures political opponents, and that ruthlessly persecutes ethnic minorities.
For more information and a copy of the Dirty List, contact Mark Farmaner, Media Officer, on 020 7324 4713
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1) THE CURRENT SITUATION IN BURMA
Amnesty International and the United Nations have reported a deteriorating human rights situation in Burma in the past year. Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest following a brutal crackdown and massacre of up to 100 of her supporters in May 2003. In an attempt to deflect international criticism the regime has convened a National Convention to draw up a new constitution. However, the draft constitution enshrines military rule and Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy are not able to take part in the convention.
2) KEY COMPANIES ON THE LIST
LLOYDS OF LONDON – NEW
Lloyd’s of London is the world’s leading insurance market providing insurance services in over 189 countries. Members of Lloyd’s provide insurance and reinsurance services to companies operating in Burma. Such insurance is vital for companies investing in Burma. It also insures Burmese companies such as Yangon Airways. As Burmese companies are not allowed to purchase insurance directly from overseas companies, Lloyd’s works through regime-owned insurance companies to provide this insurance. The Lloyd’s Agent in Burma is another agency of the regime, in the form of the Myanmar Port Authority.
ROLLS ROYCE – NEW
Rolls Royce is a British company that makes and services engines for civil and military aircraft, and the marine and energy sectors. (Rolls-Royce cars are made by a separate company which have a license from Rolls-Royce to use the brand for cars.) Through its Singaporean subsidiary Rolls-Royce has a contract to supply and service aircraft engines for at least one Burmese airline. All airlines in Burma are owned by the regime or their cronies.
SWIFT – NEW
Swift is a financial services co-operative company owned and controlled by many of the world’s largest banks, including Citibank, HSBC and ABN Amro. Swift hosts an electronic network that banks use to make transfers to each other. Following the imposition of financial sanctions by the United States government in August 2003 the regime faced a crisis, unable to use dollars in financial transactions. Swift came to their aid, making four Burmese banks part of its network. The regime is now able to avoid US financial sanctions by making financial transfers in Euros using Swift’s network.
Deutsche Post owns DHL, a global parcel delivery service. They have a subsidiary in Burma that is a joint venture with the military regime. In 1998 the regime expelled all other parcel companies in order to maximise revenues from its joint venture with DHL. DHL have attempted to deflect criticism of their involvement in Burma by claiming they are reviewing their operations there. This ‘review’ has been going on since at least June 2003. In fact DHL are expanding their operations in the region, planning to build a new shipping centre in Thailand that will act as a regional hub for parcels from neighbouring countries, including Burma.
Total is in a joint venture with the military regime developing an offshore gas field in the Andaman sea. The gas is exported to Thailand through a pipeline that travels 65 kilometres through Burma. Total is one of the biggest foreign investors in Burma. Total has been taken to court by six Burmese people who were used as forced labour in the preparation of Total’s pipeline in Burma.
Orient Express has its registered office in Bermuda, is managed from London, and is listed on the New York stock exchange. The company specialises mainly in hotels, but also offers holidays to Burma including ‘Road to Mandalay’ cruises on the Irrawaddy river. It has recently expanded its interests in Burma by taking a stake in the Pansea hotel chain – now rebranded as ‘Pansea Orient Express’ – which has a hotel in Rangoon. Pansea Orient Express is also building a new hotel in Bagan, Burma.