US companies not making full discloser on Burma; Obama told (click to view)

Several NGOs has informed US President Barack Obama that American companies making investments in Burma are not making full disclosures.

In a joint letter to Obama yesterday, the NGOs led by Washington-based US Campaign for Burma, commended American companies that have complied with the July deadline for timely reporting - Capital Bank and Trust Company and Capital International Inc., Hercules Offshore Inc., and Crowley Marine Services Inc.

At the same time it expressed concerns that these reports exhibit serious informational gaps.

The US Administration must correct these oversights and avoid setting a precedent allowing companies to avoid forthright disclosures in future reports, the letter said.

After the Obama Administration allowed US companies to make investments in Burma by relaxing the sanctions in the South East Asian nation, they were asked to make disclosures of their investment and their practises as part of its effort to ensure no human rights violation.

The Reporting Requirements were intended to help the US Government and US businesses manage the impacts of investment and safeguard human rights in Burma, as well as to provide the transparency that civil society groups need in order to promote responsible investment.

"In three separate reports, two related investment funds, Capital Bank and Trust Company and Capital International Inc. (collectively, 'Capital') declined to report on their human rights, worker rights, anti-corruption, and environmental policies and procedures, arrangements with security service providers, property acquisition practises, payments to the Burmese government, or even the general nature of their investments in Burma," the letter said.

As such these 26 NGOs urged the Obama Administration to clarify that all investors in Burma are expected to report thoroughly on their activities, even self-declared 'passive' investors.

'Passive' investors - just like hands on investors - should explain in detail the nature and scope of their investment and the due diligence, if any, they have conducted, they said.

"International standards concerning responsible corporate investment, including the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which the US has endorsed, demand human rights due diligence from all companies that operate internationally, and apply equally to active and passive investors," the NGOs said.