Human rights groups have criticized two of the UK’s largest banks after they granted tens of millions in loans to a technology business developing a telecommunications project used by Myanmar’s military, British newspaper The Observer reported on Sunday.
HSBC and Standard Chartered loaned $60 million to Vietnamese telecoms giant Viettel over the past four years, at a time when the Myanmar military has been accused of war crimes and genocide against Rohingya Muslims.
Viettel is a major investor in Mytel, a Myanmar mobile network that has grown to service more than 10 million users since its launch in 2018. Mytel’s shareholding structure confirms its revenues partly flow to Myanmar’s military.
Star High Co. Ltd., a state-owned enterprise and subsidiary of the military-operated Myanmar Economic Corp., has a 28 percent stake in the network, while Viettel’s international investment subsidiary, Viettel Global JSC, controls 49 percent.
The information was revealed in a report by campaign group Justice For Myanmar. The human rights organization used open-source data and an accidental file leak from Viettel that uncovered how Mytel upgraded Myanmar’s military infrastructure, including a fiber-optic network.–AN