Total halts dividends for Myanmar-linked venture

French energy giant Total says the company that runs its joint venture in Myanmar will stop paying dividends to shareholders. The step was taken to prevent funds from reaching Myanmar's military.

Total said in a statement it "condemns the violence and human-rights abuses occurring in Myanmar."
And it said it "reaffirms that it will comply with any decision that may be taken by the relevant international and national authorities, including applicable sanctions issued by the EU or the US authorities".

Total is the biggest shareholder of the joint venture, while US giant Chevron is also a partner. Myanmar state-run enterprise MOGE holds a 15-percent stake in the business.

Total said it will continue to maintain the production of the gas field so as not to disrupt the electricity supply to Myanmar and Thailand.

The Myanmar military continues to put pressure on the country's citizens. Human rights groups and investors have been closely watching moves by foreign firms running businesses there.