Who Invests in Terrorism-Sponsoring States?

Without a great deal of MSM notice, the US Security and Exchange Commission earlier this week announced a new tool to help investors find "information directly from company disclosure documents about their business interests in countries the U.S. Secretary of State has designated 'State Sponsors of Terrorism,'" i.e. Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

But there are some huge caveats involved, reports the Financial Times "because the list does not make clear the extent of a company's business in such states or whether they still have ties.

The SEC says appearing on the list does not "in itself mean that the company directly or indirectly supports terrorism. These companies have reported this information to shareholders in their regulatory filings. That's the official record these companies have reported and that is the record this tool helps investors access. Nothing more, nothing less."

Adam Sterling, director of the Sudan Divestment Taskforce, calls the website "a blacklist. Not a single company that we target for their operations in Sudan is covered by the SEC's tool." OK, the SEC site is of limited utility, but very easy to check. And much as we might like to applaud the Taskforce's efforts, the folks there not only make their reports -- on company rankings and on profiles of those companies -- large, cumbersome pdf documents, they also put info-seekers jump a few e-hoops to see them and then ask that it not be posted. Whoops.