Civil society groups call on Canadian and UK government bodies to help ensure that MTI Energy does not uphold Chevron’s legacy of bankrolling atrocity crimes.
September 14, 2023, Today, EarthRights International and a Myanmar civil society organization submitted a complaint to the National Contact Points of Canada and the United Kingdom asserting that Canadian company MTI is engaging in acts of corruption and contributing to human rights atrocities in Myanmar in breach of guidelines established by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The OECD Guidelines are a leading global standard used by multinational corporations worldwide to inform their human rights, anti-corruption, and environmental practices. Many governments belonging to the OECD, including Canada and the U.K., have established National Contact Points that accept complaints about breaches of the Guidelines.
The U.K. and Canada have also repeatedly raised concerns about the Myanmar military’s use of stolen natural resource revenues to fund the military’s atrocities. MTI Energy is going into business with the junta through the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise, whose offices were seized by the military early in the coup.
While MTI Energy is registered in Canada, its purchase is being made through a subsidiary registered in Bermuda. Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory and implements U.K. sanctions. MTI Energy is set to take over from Chevron and become the largest shareholder in Myanmar’s Yadana gas project, which earns the junta tens of millions of dollars monthly. The company appears likely to use its substantial management powers to ensure that it and the junta can sell off Myanmar’s state assets, funding the junta’s atrocities. This leaves MTI Energy in breach of the OECD Guidelines.
“MTI Energy has not consulted with communities or civil society in Myanmar that are directly affected by their investment,” said John Doe, a representative of the civil society group, which wishes to remain anonymous for security reasons. “If they had, we’d have told them their pipeline cuts through communities torn apart by civil war, and they will be funding one side of it. The junta is not our government and is using gas revenues to rain bombs from jet planes on our communities.”
MTI Energy can only enter Myanmar’s gas sector by signing contracts with the Government of Myanmar. The United Nations General Assembly has refused to recognize the junta as the government, and Myanmar’s Ambassador to the U.N. instead answers to Myanmar’s National Unity Government.
“In January, Robert Rae, Canada’s Ambassador to the U.N., gave opening remarks during the launch of a U.N. report on why the junta is not the legitimate Government of Myanmar. MTI Energy is planning to treat the military junta as if it were the recognized government so it can profit from Myanmar’s methane gas exports,” said EarthRights Director of Strategy and Campaigns, Keith Slack.
The complaint to the OECD National Contact Points calls on MTI Energy to comply with the OECD Guidelines, including by ensuring that it can use its leverage, either alone or in cooperation with other investors, to divert gas revenues away from the junta. If it cannot, it will contribute to the junta’s atrocity crimes.
“Canada’s National Contact Point (NCP) sits in the office of Global Affairs Canada. As GAC considers whether to finally follow the EU’s lead and impose sanctions on Myanmar gas revenues, we’d hope that the NCP staff might wander down the hall and highlight that MTI Energy is entering a corrupt joint venture with Myanmar’s brutal military junta that will fund airstrikes on school and hospitals,” added Keith Slack.
Just this month, the junta targeted a school and a church in Karen state, killing four students and a teacher. “MTI Energy has completely ignored its responsibilities under the OECD Guidelines by entering into business that contributes to the junta’s atrocities. MTI has so far refused to communicate with Myanmar civil society, and I hope the OECD National Contact Points will provide an avenue for us to resolve our serious concerns about MTI’s investment. MTI’s irresponsible entry into Myanmar is enabled by the failure of the UK and Canadian governments to sanction Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise. I urge them to now take action and block gas funds to the junta,” concluded John Doe.
Kate Fried, EarthRights International