SEC Announces Divest Terror Tool

SEC Chairman Chris Cox announces new tool for investors to identify companies that do business in terror sponsoring countries. 

In the latest of a series of steps to use the Internet and interactive computer technology to make public company disclosures more accessible to investors, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox today announced that the SEC has added to its Web site a software tool that permits investors to obtain information directly from company disclosure documents about their business interests in countries the U.S. Secretary of State has designated “State Sponsors of Terrorism.”

The information comes from the companies’ most recent annual reports as filed with the SEC.

Chairman Cox said, “No investor should ever have to wonder whether his or her investments or retirement savings are indirectly subsidizing a terrorist haven or genocidal state. The law already requires companies to report on any material activities in a country the Secretary of State has formally designated a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Our role is to make that information readily accessible to the investing public. Making it easier to find significant information such as this by tapping the power of technology is central to the SEC’s mission.”

Five countries are currently on the U.S. State Department list: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. (In addition to its support for terrorism, the Sudanese government has also been widely recognized as complicit in genocidal activities in Sudan’s Darfur region.)

The new software tool can be accessed on the Investor Information section of the SEC’s home page. Clicking the tab for “State Sponsors of Terrorism” will bring up a menu of each of the countries on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Clicking on any of those countries will bring up a menu of the companies whose 2006 annual reports disclose business activities in that country. Clicking on the name of a company will, in turn, bring up the pertinent portions of that company’s annual report.

All of the disclosures are linked directly to the full text of the company’s annual report to insure proper context. The existence of a disclosure by a company concerning activities in one of the listed countries does not, in itself, mean that the company directly or indirectly supports terrorism or is otherwise engaged in any improper activity. The information will be continuously updated to reflect SEC filings as they are received, as well as any changes to the Department of State’s list.

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