Burma Campaign writes to Lloyd’s chairman detailing importance of withdrawing insurance cover for Burmese organisations.

Campaigners against the military regime in Burma have stepped up their pressure on Lloyd’s, writing to chairman Lord Levene and urging him to stop Lloyd’s underwriters from doing business in the country.

The letter, seen by Insurance Times, outlines the Burma Campaign’s attempts to engage with Lloyd’s, and claims it has met with a refusal to address the real issues.

Commenting on its sales of (re)insurance to Burmese companies, a Lloyd’s spokesman, said: “A very small amount of reinsurance is written at Lloyd’s in Burmese shipping and aviation. We are unaware of any businesses at Lloyd’s defying international sanctions. If we discovered any underwriters breaching sanctions we would take action immediately.”

The letter details how the Burmese democracy movement, led by imprisoned Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, calls for companies not to invest in Burma, claiming that in doing so they finance Burma’s brutal regime. The movement formed this policy after witnessing how the regime spent the billions it receives from global business on weapons and fighter jets, even as they decreased spending on healthcare and education.

The letter reads: “You cannot be aware of the true extent of the brutality of Burma’s regime. As if you were, given how seriously you take your ethical responsibilities, you would long ago have taken action against the syndicates that continue to provide (re)insurance services to companies in Burma.”

Last autumn Buddhist monks led thousands of Burmese on to the streets, calling for change. The regime responded with bullets, killing a number of protestors.

The Burma Campaign said that without foreign insurance the regime’s financial lifeline would dry up, and its ability to fund its campaigns of repression would be seriously impaired.

The letter states: “The regime’s own Ministry of Finance and Revenue boast that Lloyd’s underwrites the regime-owned insurance company, Myanma Insurance. By doing so the regime is using the Lloyd’s good name to build its credibility with foreign investors and to allow it to increase its income.

“Lloyd’s attitude to date is out of step with the rest of the industry. Thirteen of the world’s biggest insurance companies now refuse to sell (re)insurance to companies in Burma, including AIG, Swiss Re, Allianz, Aon, Aviva, Axa, ING, Munich Re, Scor, and Willis.”

The letter follows the publication of a report by the Burma Campaign highlighting the involvement of a number of insurers, including Lloyd’s insurers, in the country.