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Anger over 'business terror list'

New York, July 7, 2007

The US financial regulator has angered some of the world's largest firms by highlighting their links to countries designated as state sponsors of terror.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has listed firms on its website with business connections to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria, according to a BBC report.

The commission says this will allow investors to make more informed choices about where they put their money.

But business say that the list is ill-conceived and misleading.

Siemens, BP, Unilever, HSBC, Nokia and Benetton are among the businesses that have been "named and shamed" on the SEC's website.

Companies were added to the list if any of the offending nations appeared in their annual report.

The SEC defended the scheme saying that it allowed greater disclosure about the dealings of businesses.

"No investor should ever have to wonder whether his or her investments or retirement savings are indirectly subsidising a terrorist haven or genocide state," said SEC chairman Christopher Cox.

But business and humanitarian groups have argued that snippets of annual reports do not make clear to what extent companies are involved with the targeted countries.

Baker Hughes, which has been included on the list, ended its links with Sudan two years ago and states that it will prohibit any business activity involving these countries.

The Institute of International Bankers, the body representing international financial institutions in the US, called the SEC's list "misleading", and compiled "without regard to the materiality of their dealings, if any, with the five countries".
 
It added: "The list could needlessly discourage international firms from listing their securities in the US."




Tags: BP | HSBC | Iran | Siemens | Nokia | Syria | sudan | Cuba | North Korea | Unilever | Benetton |

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