Trillium Files Resolutions on Sudan Genocide
Trillium Asset Management Corporation Files Resolutions on the Sudan Genocide
In December 2007, Trillium Asset Management Corporation (“Trillium”), working in coalition with human rights organizations and other socially responsible investment firms, filed shareholder resolutions with major banks and financial firms with the goal of engaging Wall Street to push Sudan to end the violence in Darfur and accept full deployment of U.N. peacekeepers. Trillium filed resolutions at JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch.
These Wall Street powerhouses are among the largest shareholders in the “Big 4” petroleum companies doing business in Sudan, whose royalties to the government have financed the massacres in Darfur. In total, the coalition is calling on more than 40 top firms with holdings in these companies to use their influence as major investors to pressure the Sudanese government to stop obstructing the deployment of the 26,000-member U.N. peacekeeping force. The oil industry in Sudan is dominated by four foreign companies: China National Petroleum Corporation of China, Petronas of Malaysia, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India, and Sinopec Corporation of China. While these are all state-owned enterprises, U.S. investors have significant funds invested through various publicly-held affiliates and subsidiaries.
The conflict has left more than 200,000 civilians dead since 2003.
Shelley Alpern, Vice President at Trillium Asset Management, said: “Ideally, we hope to see action from these firms over the next few months, which would allow us to withdraw these resolutions before annual meetings in the spring. The situation in Darfur merits extraordinary and urgent action on all our parts, as individuals, as investors, and as business leaders.”
“Sudan doesn’t need the United States to keep its economy going, but it does need foreign oil companies,” said Denise Bell, Sudan country specialist for Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). “Major financial firms need to engage these oil companies aggressively and push them to use their unique influence with the Sudanese government.”
Ninety percent of Sudan’s export income is derived from oil, with Khartoum funneling the majority of this revenue into military expenditures. Sudan lacks the capital and expertise to efficiently extract its own oil, and relies almost entirely on foreign companies to operate this lucrative industry, which provided the government with over $4 billion in export revenue last year.
The coalition has filed shareholder resolutions with six firms so far: Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, T. Rowe Price, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase. Trillium has also taken part in meetings with Citigroup.
So far, the responses from investment firms to letters and meetings on Darfur have been wide-ranging. Twenty-eight firms–almost half of them American–have not responded at all. Five U.S. firms — JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, T. Rowe Price and Morgan Stanley — agreed to meet with the coalition. A full status report of firms’ responses and the text of the shareholder resolutions is available at www.amnestyusa.org/progress.
Other coalition members filing resolutions include Amnesty International USA, Calvert Group, Ltd., Marianist Province of the United States, Northstar Asset Management, Needmor Fund, Sisters of Saint Joseph of Brighton MA, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the Vermont State Treasury and Walden Asset Management.
For more information about Trillium’s work on Sudan:
Proxy Voting Guidelines (see PetroChina)