Insurance firms reject Burma campaignOctober 2008
A number of insurance companies have either rejected or challenged claims by a UK-based pressure group that they should close their operations in Burma.
In a new development that targets providers of services to companies that have direct commercial interests in the country, The Burma Campaign has ‘named and shamed’ 16 insurers that it claims have client companies with operations there.
Atrium, Catlin, Lloyd’s of London, Mitsui Sumitomo and Tokio Marine feature on the list of insurers. Two – the Arab Insurance Group and XL – have since announced they will no longer accept business in Burma, but others, such as ACE, Lloyd’s and OCBC Bank, have indicated that they will not comply with the campaign’s demands.
However, some of the firms also dispute the accuracy of the information used by the pressure group to compile the list. Sompo said it merely had an office in Burma ‘to collect market information and data’, and Al Wasl claimed its name appeared to be included solely because its Bangladesh subsidiary mentions Burma on its website. Al Wasl said there was no evidence this office had done business with Burma.
The campaign accuses insurers of businesses in Burma of propping up the military regime and ‘putting profit before ethics’. It says AIG, Allianz, Aon, Aviva, Axa, ING, Munich Re, SCOR, Swiss Re and Willis are among insurers no longer active in Burma, and that others should follow suit.
It also urges the European Union to introduce financial sanctions preventing insurers from selling to businesses in Burma. This would bring the EU into line with the US, which since 2003 has prohibited the provision of financial services, including insurance, to the country.
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