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Swiss firm unhappy as US calls it “terrorist state” sponsor

By Xinhua

Geneva : A Swiss agrochemical company has felt "disappointed" with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) suspecting it of sponsoring terrorist states.

The SEC last week launched a website link aimed at exposing world companies which could be "indirectly subsidising a terrorist state", the official Swissinfo website reported.

The blacklist is based on latest annual reports of the companies. They are mostly non-US and include Unilever, Cadbury, HSBC, Nokia, Siemens and Total, as well as the second biggest Swiss bank, Credit Suisse, the agrochemical firm, Syngenta, and the engineering group, ABB.

Syngenta said it was disappointed with the US blacklist, while ABB and Credit Suisse played down their business links with the five named countries – Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, Swissinfo said.

According to Basel-based Syngenta, the company should not be punished for its transparency.

Syngenta is currently active in four of the five countries designated by the US state department as "sponsors of terrorism".

"But we see no reason to change our policy," said Syngenta spokesman Medard Schoenmaeckers.

He added that the company's business activities in Sudan's agriculture sector were "minimal".

Credit Suisse, which features on the list of all five "rogue states", did not comment on the SEC blacklist, according to the Swissinfo report.

A bank spokesman said Credit Suisse had withdrawn from Cuba and Iran at the beginning of 2006.

For its part, ABB said an "information offensive" was needed to explain its position to investors. The engineering group has been doing business with Iran, according to the SEC list.

The company added it had withdrawn from Sudan after investors expressed concern over the business activities with the war-torn African country.

ABB's business activities with Iran will continue but account for less than one percent of the company's sales, according to spokesman Wolfram Eberhardt.