How Finance Uncovered helped to reveal the biggest shareholder in major Myanmar gas field

Follow-the-money research by Finance Uncovered and Justice For Myanmar (JFM) led directly to a major investigation by the Toronto Star which could see a revamp of Canada’s sanctions policy.

Journalists from the Toronto Star reported on how a subsidiary of a previously unknown Canadian company had become the largest shareholder in Yadana, Myanmar’s most lucrative offshore gas project.

The company, Et Martem Holdings, had bought the stake from Chevron, the US energy giant, for an undisclosed sum.

Toronto Star reporters were working on information which we had discovered and passed on to them during our own investigations that had been examining international contractors helping to keep Myanmar’s gas fields operational following the brutal military coup in 2021.

As part of the pre-publication “opportunity to comment” process, we contacted Chevron with our partners, Justice For Myanmar and The Guardian.

Chevron was the largest shareholder in Yadana. Profits from Yadana help keep the military's brutal regime afloat and many of the international contractors we named were working on this facility.

We asked Chevron about the status of its 41.1% stake. In its reply, Chevron gave us a scoop.

The US energy firm disclosed for the first time the identity of Yadana’s new majority owner: a Bermuda-incorporated company called Et Martem Holdings.

We found that Et Martem Holdings was registered months earlier in April 2022 and that it was a wholly owned subsidiary of MTI Energy, itself a small private company seemingly based in a residential street in Edmonton, Canada.

Edmonton company disclosures then gave us the name of MTI’s directors – but its shareholders details were unavailable.

We could see MTI was first incorporated in 2019 and a Google search showed the company had reportedly secured some exploration tracts in Angola in 2021.

We passed on these details to journalists at the Toronto Star suggesting they dig in further.

This month, the Toronto Star published its story.

The Star approached the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar who told the paper that profits from Yadana helps to keep the Myanmar junta afloat.

As part of the story, the Toronto Star established that the Canadian authorities are looking closely at the situation and may try to toughen its sanction regime to prevent similar deals taking place.

MTI Energy did not respond to requests for comment from both Finance Uncovered and the Toronto Star.

Image: the Yadana offshore gas project from the air