The junta’s courier

April 3, 2021

DHL, the global courier firm owned by Germany’s Deutsche Post DHL, is in business with Myanmar’s military junta through a joint venture, making the firm complicit in the junta’s international crimes if they continue business as usual.  

Justice For Myanmar calls on DHL to immediately suspend payments to the junta and hold them in a protected account until democracy is restored.

A corporate record from Myanmar’s business registry shows that this venture, called Myanmar DHL, is 51 per cent owned by Myanmar’s postal service.

The postal service is part of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which has fallen under military control since the brutal and illegal February 1 military coup.

The directors of Myanmar DHL are senior regional executives of DHL and senior officials from Myanmar’s communication ministry, according to the company extract.

Since the coup, more than 500 people have been deliberately killed by the military, which is committing crimes against humanity. The communications ministry is directly involved in the military’s repression through internet shutdowns, censorship and surveillance.

Businesses like DHL are a source of revenue and legitimacy to the military junta.

Myanmar DHL made net profits of about US$1.6 million in 2019, according to Deutsche Post’s global financial statements for 2020.

The joint venture was set up in late 1996, according to the records. A military dictatorship was in power in Myanmar and was brutally repressing student protests at the same time that the venture was being set up.

Deutsche Post did not respond to questions from Der Spiegel on the extent that the Myanmar military junta profits from DHL’s business in the country.

DHL has two other companies in Myanmar which it wholly owns, according to Deutsche Post’s accounts: DHL Global Forwarding Myanmar Ltd and DHL Myanmar Supply Chain Ltd. The latter runs a warehouse for Nestle and other customers in Myanmar.

The international courier’s DHL Express division has a large handling facility in Myanmar to serve various industries, including oil and gas.

The corporate record shows that DHL holds its investment in the joint venture through a company called Deutsche Post International B.V. in the Netherlands, which is a tax haven.

Multinationals from Germany and other wealthy countries commonly hold their investments through holding companies in tax havens in order to make it easier to avoid taxes in countries where they do business.

However, the available documents do not show any evidence of DHL avoiding taxes on its profits in Myanmar.

If Myanmar DHL continues business as usual, will remain complicit in the Myanmar military’s grave crimes. Justice For Myanmar calls on DHL to immediately suspend payments to the junta and stand with the people of Myanmar, in their struggle for democracy.