Carlsberg has admitted it engaged in a covert partnership with a military-owned firm in Myanmar during the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Justice For Myanmar, an NGO that researches the connections between global firms and the Burmese military, had reported in April 2023 on the extensive role global breweries continue to play in funding the military dictatorship in the country.
The report identified that Carlsberg entered into ”an apparent secret partnership with military conglomerate Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and Myanmar Golden Star to establish Dagon Beverages.”
The investment was made via a proxy firm Brewinvest in 1996, enabling Dagon to go on to produce SKOL beer in Myanmar.
Justice For Myanmar further highlighted Danbrew, then a Carlsberg-owned brewery consulting firm, installed Dagon’s brewery – underscoring the depth of the secret partnership.
After several months of investigations, Carlsberg issued a wide-ranging statement admitting the firm had acted “contrary to public statements”.
“The actions uncovered during the investigation are not in line with the standards for business conduct found in Carlsberg today.”
“Although almost 30 years have passed, we still strongly condemn the actions by management at the time. The managers involved with the actions are no longer employed by Carlsberg.”
Beyond claims made by Justice For Myanmar, Carlsberg’s investigation uncovered the firm had bought the Brewinvest shares in 2004 and sold their stake later that year to the aforementioned military-owned firm MEC in the weeks following the introduction of EU sanctions.
Despite the failure of the brewery’s first entanglement in Myanmar, the brewing conglomerate re-entered the market in 2012 through the same partner Myanmar Golden Star.
In response to criticism around human rights implications of continuing to operate in the war-torn country, the brewery shared it had “started conducting a series of enhanced human rights due diligence activities to better understand the operational environment in Myanmar”.