Wednesday, 20 August 2008

International Insurance Companies Leave Burma

The Irrawaddy News

Two international insurance companies have announced they will stop doing business in Burma following public campaigns highlighting their business services in the military-run country.

The insurance companies, XL of Britain, and Chubb of the United States, announced their intentions to pull out of Burma shortly after Burma Campaign UK published a report, “Insuring Repression,” that highlighted how global insurance companies help to facilitate business in the country run by a military dictatorship that is routinely accused of human rights violations.

In the report published in July, the activist group said international insurance companies in Britain, Japan and Singapore, a total of 16 companies, including Lloyd’s of London, Hannover Re, Catlin, Atrium, XL, Tokio Marine, Sompo Japan and Mitsui Sumitomo and their affiliates offered insurance to various businesses and industries in Burma, such as airlines, ports and shipping services.

“The company now has a policy that it will no longer seek to insure Burma companies or operations of companies in Burma,” stated XL capital Ltd.

XL Capital Ltd is a UK financial services company which has more than 3,500 employees and offices on Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. Its main lines of business are casualty and property insurance and reinsurance.

Chubb Corporation announced it will order its member companies to close offices in Burma.
Chubb Corp is the 10th largest property and casualty insurer in the United States.

Johnny Chatterton, a campaigns officer at the Burma Campaign UK, said, “This is a major embarrassment to Lloyd’s of London; they have never taken this issue seriously and don’t see any problem with helping to finance Burma’s brutal dictatorship.”

After the release of the report by Burma’s Campaign UK, Lloyd’s of London issued a statement saying, “A very small amount of reinsurance is written at Lloyd’s in Burmese shipping and aviation. We are unaware of any businesses at Lloyd’s defying international sanctions. If we discovered any underwriters breaching sanctions we would take action immediately.”

Burmese opposition groups welcomed the announcements by XL and Chubb.

Maung Maung, the general-secretary of the Federation of Trade Union Burma, said, “Insurance companies are facilitating trade and investment in Burma, filling the pockets of the generals. We strongly condemn all insurers that remain involved in our junta-run country. They help keep the generals in power and condemn Burma’s 50 million people to lives of poverty and fear.”

No comments: