A human rights group says two international oil firms are providing support for Burma's oppressive military regime.EarthRights International reports that French company Total and American firm Chevron helped cover up high-level corruption and killings connected to a pipeline project. Two reports released to journalists Thursday in Bangkok say the (Yadana) project has earned the Burmese government nearly $5 billion and that most of the money is kept in two banks in Singapore.
The group's project coordinator for Burma, Matthew Smith, says the hidden funds help the military rulers avoid the effect of international sanctions.
Smith also says the two western companies have used inaccurate information to give favorable assessments of the project's effect on villages.Total and Chevron have not immediately responded to the reports. But the two Singapore-based banks (the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation and the DBS Group) both denied the allegations.
EarthRights says it learned of the abuses from interviews with hundreds of villagers in the area of the joint Total-Chevron gas pipeline. The villagers said their land has been confiscated by security forces at the pipeline.