Reports from Annual General Meetings



Albert Beale reports...

May 9 - Questions about corruption dominated the questions to directors at the recent annual shareholders' meeting of Britain's biggest weapons merchants, BAE Systems. In addition to some nominal shareholders organised by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), several "real" shareholders also embarrassed the board with related questions. Outside the meeting too, street theatre by CAAT activist featured in the financial pages of most serious papers the next day. The biggest of the suspects deals - with Saudi Arabia - was investigated by the Serious Fraud Office until the SFO was ordered to drop its corruption enquiry late last year. CAAT and Corner House are still trying to win a judicial review of the decision to drop the case, and now legal authorities in Switzerland and the USA are investigating aspects of the same deal.

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May 15 - Peaceful protest took place outside and inside Shell's AGM both in The Hague and London. The focus was the culmination of four years campaigning by the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU). Demands range from bread and butter issues such as land allocation, unpaid wages, holidays, health and safety and full-time status for temporary workers, to wider political issues which have been the founding bedrock of the union: protection of Iraq's oil wealth from foreign companies and a say in the future of the oil industry. Shell is one of the companies that the union has cautioned against entering Iraq "under the guise of so-called production sharing agreements".


May 16 - During Wednesday's shareholder meeting, Halliburton said its finished selling off its controversial subsidiary KBR, and had no comment on allegations of fraud and overspending in Iraq. Opponents of war profiteering threw Halliburton a send-off party at its annual shareholder meeting with the theme Take the Money and Run. Activists came from all over Texas to participate.

Corpwatch just released a report, "Goodbye, Houston," critical of the company's sordid way of making money through fraud and overcharging on government contracts in Iraq. It outlines suggestions for more transparency in how the it spends billions in taxpayer dollars. Halliburton may be linked to missing oil Iraqi oil.

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Joe Carr reports...

June 14 - For the fourth year in a row, Palestinian rights activists made Caterpillar's sales to Israel the number one issue during their annual shareholders meeting in Chicago. Because of previous demonstrations, this year's meeting was moved from downtown Chicago to an hour outside the city in a secure complex called the Q Center. Using disruptive action, activists forced the meeting to end 20 minutes early. About 30 people picketed the facility's entrance while others went inside. Four of us had obtained proxy tickets from sympathetic shareholders and dressed in our finest business attire. CAT distributed two color booklets to the shareholders entitled “Relentless” and “Endless”. We'd made stickers in advance that changed our booklets to say “Relentless Murder”, “Endless War”, “Relentless Destruction”, and “Endless Occupation”, and snuck in some Palestinian flags... Matt Gains of the Stop CAT coalition, stood and raised his Palestinian flag and started our chant. Two others and I stood and joined in, “Take responsibility, do the right thing”, over and over again. Everyone was confused and didn't know what to do, so the CEO immediately called the meeting to a close (20 minutes early) and we were briskly escorted out by security. The action was concluded without incident, save a $25 parking ticket given to Matt by a local cop as he stopped briefly in the road to unload demonstrators. It marked another chapter in our campaign that has raised vast awareness about CAT's ties to Israel, and furthered the broader movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

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