A group of 21 institutional investors with a combined $407bn (€314bn) in assets under management is calling for the US government to strengthen its reporting requirements for investments in Burma.
The group has been coordinated by the Conflict Risk Network (CRN), which includes more than 100 institutional investors, financial service providers and other stakeholders.
The group includes pension funds, asset managers, government entities, university endowments, foundations, and socially responsible investment firms.
The investors support the requirements, but want greater transparency and “clearer consequences” for failure to comply with new State Department rules. The government issued the reporting requirements in July amid a relaxation in sanctions following the election of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to Burma’s parliament.
“The reforms in Burma are fragile and reversible,” said CRN Director Kathy Mulvey, noting that conflicts are continuing, particularly in resource-rich ethnic areas where investment is most likely.
“The US government must use these reporting requirements to gather and make public criticalinformation about the operations of US corporations and their impact on human rights, worker rights and the environment.
The information was essential for institutional investors to exercise due diligence and engage companies, she added.
Investors had written to President Obama in May raising concerns about the timing of the lifting of the sanctions.
In addition to the Conflict Risk Network, other notable investors endorsing the submission to the State Department include the likes of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management (formerly Morgan Stanley Smith Barney), Danske Bank and F&C Asset Management.
“We believe that there are still high risks associated with moving too quickly to invest in Burma,” said Lauren Compere, Managing Director Boston Common Asset Management.
“Anyone considering Burma must be prepared to engage in a uniquely high level of due diligence, added Larry Dohrs, Vice President at Newground Social Investment. “Anything less would create unacceptable risk to a company’s brand, bottom line and shareholders.”