Committee for Better Banks Demands U.S. Banks Divest $10 Billion from Myanmar Junta

Committee for Better Banks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 28, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT: Zoe PiSierra, [email protected], 603.339.0042

 

Committee for Better Banks Demands U.S. Banks Divest $10 Billion from Myanmar Junta

 

NATIONWIDE -- In letters sent today to Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo, the Committee for Better Banks (CBB) and UNI Global Union call for the immediate divestment of the banks’ shareholdings linked to the military junta in Myanmar.

The groups’ request comes after a new analysis from BankTrack and Justice for Myanmar showed that the four U.S. banks have more than $10 billion invested in companies with direct or longstanding commercial ties to Myanmar’s military or links to state entities that the military is controlling as a result of the February coup d’état. The investment totals:

  • Bank of America: $5.246 billion
  • Wells Fargo: $1.911 billion
  • JPMorgan Chase: $5.192 billion 
  • Morgan Stanley: $2.577 billion

“Bank workers in the U.S. are horrified that their employers have billions invested in a violent military junta that is suppressing human rights and killing people to maintain its power,” said Nick Weiner, Co-Lead Director of CBB, which represents U.S. frontline bankers who are coming together to improve working conditions in the industry. “Commitment to democracy requires more than words, and that’s why Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley should immediately divest the more than $10 billion in shareholdings linked to the junta. Not only is it the moral thing to do, it would also build pressure on other investors to follow their example and weaken the military’s power. As long as banks approach these grave human rights violations with a ‘business-as-usual’ mindset, they will remain complicit.”

The military’s increasingly repressive crackdown against pro-democracy protesters has led to hundreds of deaths, including summary executions, with thousands more detained, tortured, and injured. At least 75 children have been killed, and up to 1,000 children detained, the UN recently reported. Meanwhile, COVID-19 is surging through the country, particularly in detention centers where many of the opponents to the regime are incarcerated.

CBB and UNI say in their letters, “In the current situation following the coup in Myanmar, urgent and heightened due diligence activities are needed by all companies with business relationships in the country given the severity of the human rights’ impacts.”

“It is simply not acceptable to pretend it’s business as usual for banks with investments linked to the military regime in Myanmar. These banks have a responsibility to do all in their power to help stop the bloodshed and restore democracy in the country,” said UNI Global Union general secretary, Christy Hoffman. “By divesting their shareholdings in Myanmar, they have the potential to weaken the economic strength of the military junta and send a strong signal that the ongoing and grave human rights violations will not be tolerated.”

Under the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) and OECD Guidelines, all business enterprises,

including investors, should take the necessary steps to cease, prevent, or mitigate adverse human rights impacts which they cause, contribute, or are directly linked to through their business relationships.

As clarified in the OECD’s guidance on Responsible Business conduct for institutional investors, “an appropriate response once adverse impacts have been identified may include divestment after failed attempts at mitigation, where the investor deems mitigation unfeasible, where the investor policy dictates exclusion, or simply because of the severity of the adverse impact.”

UNI/CBB letter to Wells Fargo

UNI/CBB letter to Bank of America

UNI/CBB letter to JPMorganChase

UNI/CBB letter to Morgan Stanley

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About Committee for Better Banks

The Committee for Better Banks, the only independent voice for frontline bank employees, comprises bank workers, community and consumer advocacy groups, and labor organizations, coming together to improve conditions in the banking industry. Committee for Better Banks members include current and former employees of banks and credit unions across the country, including Wells Fargo, US Bank, Santander, Bank of The West, and Bank of America.

 

About UNI Global Union:

UNI represents 20 million workers in the skills and services sector worldwide, including finance workers.

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