Australia’s Future Fund invests in arms manufacturers who have sold arms to the Myanmar military | Australia news


The Australian sovereign wealth fund Future Fund has invested in a Chinese state-controlled arms manufacturer that has sold fighter jets to the Myanmar military, accused of crimes against humanity.

Among the companies the Fund has invested in that are related to the Myanmar military is an Indian-controlled arms company, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Acts.

Myanmar’s military took control of the country in a coup in February and has since killed more than 1,200 civilians cracking down on pro-democracy protests.

In total, Australia’s Future Fund has invested $ 157 million in 14 publicly traded companies that have done business with the Myanmar military.

The fund’s holdings include $ 4.9 million invested in five subsidiaries of the Chinese defense company Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

It has also invested $ 17.8 million in Bharat Electronics, a government-controlled company that supplied materials to the Myanmar military and was involved in the development of nuclear weapons by the US on allegations between 1998 and 2001 to be sanctioned. The sanctions were lifted in 2001 due to India’s cooperation with the US in an anti-terrorist campaign.

The Future Fund holds approximately $ 200 billion in investments made on behalf of the Australian government. It is overseen by a guardianship committee chaired by Peter Costello, the Howard government’s treasurer.

Myanmar’s military, known as Tatmadaw, has been internationally condemned for its “clearance operations” in 2017, which UN investigators said were carried out with “genocidal intent” against the Rohingya ethnic minority in Rakhine state. as well as gang rape, arson and torture. More than 25,000 Rohingya were killed and 700,000 were driven across the Myanmar border into Bangladesh.

In 2019, a UN fact-finding mission said China had violated international humanitarian law because AVIC had transferred military equipment to the Tatmadaw.

The majority of Australian investments in AVIC are made through subsidiary AviChina, in which US $ 3.2 million has been invested. AviChina manufactures the K-8 light fighter aircraft that were used in military operations in the state of Kachin, Myanmar.

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In 2015, the Myanmar military ordered 16 JF-17M fighter jets from AVIC under a $ 560 million contract. The first four aircraft entered service in 2018, one year after the Myanmar military’s genocidal campaign against the Rohingya.

AVIC also delivered 40 short-range PL-5E missiles and 24 long-range PL-12 missiles, both of which can be built into the JF-17M aircraft, to the institute’s Myanmar military database in 2018-19, according to Stockholm International Peace Research for arms transfers.

Bharat Electronics has continued to sell military equipment to the Tatmadaw since the coup. According to export data, the company has equipped the Tatmadaw with radar, sonar, a coastal surveillance system and a remote-controlled weapon station.

Justice for Myanmar spokesman Yadanar Maung said the military has killed more than 1200 civilians, including children, including children, torturing thousands, rape, setting fire to villages and carrying out indiscriminate air strikes on homes since the February 1 coup.

“It is unfortunate that the Australian Future Fund is trying to capitalize on companies that are rearming the Myanmar military and effectively funding its terrorist campaign.

“In the name of Australia’s’ future ‘, taxpayers’ money is being invested in companies that supply the Myanmar military with fighter jets, missiles, radars and generate millions in annual revenues for war criminals. It is time for Australia to stop profiting at the expense of Myanmar’s lives and Myanmar’s future. “

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Other companies that the Future Fund has a stake in with ties to the regime include Sinotruk, which makes trucks used by the Tatmadaw but has refused to sell the vehicles to the military. The fund has invested $ 4.4 million in Sinotruk, which did not answer Guardian Australia’s questions.

The Future Fund’s largest Tatmadaw-related investment is Korean steel giant Posco, which operates the Shwe gas project, a major revenue generator for the Myanmar military. A Posco subsidiary also brokered the sale of a warship for the Myanmar Navy. Posco has not responded to questions from the Guardian, but Jeong Joon-sung, a Posco director, previously said, “We do not believe the gas field business is linked to the military junta.”

The Future Fund has also invested $ 33 million in Kirin, which is a joint venture with a Tatmadaw-controlled company in a brewery company in Myanmar. After the coup, Kirin suspended dividend payments to the Tatmadaw company MEHL and promised to stop doing business with him.

This has not yet happened and earlier this month MEHL filed for the liquidation of the joint venture with the courts in Myanmar – a move that, according to Kirin, was rejected “because of doubts about the fairness and appropriateness of the liquidation process”.

Kirin spokesman Russell Roll said the company had “made every effort to negotiate the termination of the joint venture with MEHL.”

“However, MEHL was uncooperative in the negotiations and de facto rejected our proposals,” he said.

“We were and are deeply concerned about the recent actions of the military in Myanmar, which violate our standards and our human rights policy.”

The Future Fund did not answer questions about its investments in companies related to the Tatmadaw.

In a statement, a spokesman said: “In line with its government mandate, the Future Fund has built a broadly diversified portfolio that includes passive investments by outside investment managers in thousands of companies worldwide.

“The Fund has a proven policy of environmental, social and governance issues and exclusions that takes into account its objectives, laws, investment policy, Australian law and the treaties signed and ratified by the Australian Government.”

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