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|11 September 2009
Report: Myanmar junta’s gas money kept in Singapore banks
Two banks in Singapore are alleged to be functioning as ‘offshore repositories’ for Myanmar military junta’s revenues accruing from the Yadana gas project, a human rights group said.
At a Bangkok press conference on Thursday, Earthrights International (ERI) launched two reports alleging that oil giants Total and Chevron are linked to “forced labor, killings, high-level corruption and authoritarianism” in Burma.
The reports, titled “Total Impact” and “Getting it Wrong,” examine how revenue from the Yadana gas project sustains military rule in Burma and undermines Western sanctions.
For the first time, ERI reveals that the military regime is hiding multi-billion dollar revenues from natural gas sales in two offshore banks in Singapore.
The 110-page report, based on over two years of research, said that Total and Chevron’s Yadana gas project has generated $4.83 billion dollars for the military regime. It explains how the regime would have excluded at least $4.80 billion dollars of that revenue from the country’s national budget.
Citing “confidential and reliable” sources, ERI named the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) and DBS Group (DBS) as the offshore repositories of Yadana gas pipeline revenues. OCBC is Singapore’s longest established local bank and according to ERI holds the majority of the revenue, while DBS is Singapore’s largest bank in terms of assets.
As a result of this revenue, Total and Chevron are a “leading external factor contributing to the regime’s intransigence” and a primary reason why international and domestic pressure on the SPDC has to date been ineffective, according to ERI.
“The military elite are hiding billions of dollars of the peoples’ revenue in Singapore while the country needlessly suffers under the lowest social spending in Asia,” said ERI Burma Project Coordinator Matthew Smith, a principal author of the reports.
“The revenue from this pipeline is the regime’s lifeline and a critical leverage point that the international community could use to support the people of Burma (Myanmar),” he added.
ERI is calling on the international community to apply targeted multilateral pressure to block these misappropriated revenues from international capital markets and to restrict transactions to and from the relevant accounts.
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