UANI billboard criticizes Sasol presence in Iran - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

UANI billboard criticizes Sasol presence in Iran

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A group dedicated to keeping nuclear weapons away from Iran has put up a billboard in Southwest Louisiana criticizing Sasol for its presence in Iran.

Sasol is based in South Africa. Sasol officials in South Africa say the billboard is wrong.

Sasol's much anticipated mega expansion in Southwest Louisiana became the topic of the single billboard just within the last couple of days. The sign is visible from Interstate 10 around milepost 31, if you're westbound on the interstate.

The billboard says, "Before you build here stop building in Iran." It also demands Sasol "choose between Louisiana or Iran's terrorist regime."

The billboard stands in a parking lot at the corner of Belden Street and Enterprise Boulevard. It was put there by a group called UANI, which is United Against Nuclear Iran.

Spokesman Nathan Carleton said Sasol maintains an active presence in Iran's energy sector by operating chemical plants there.

"Sasol is involved in Iran's energy sector. It's partners with a company that is controlled by the Iranian government and it's irresponsible because it helps fund the Iranian regime and it helps fund the Iranian nuclear program. Sasol said that they would end that contract in Iran,but they've yet to do so," he said.

But a spokesman for Sasol in South Africa says the billboard is not accurate and that the company is getting out of Iran and has been working through the complex process of extricating Sasol from Iran. 

But Carleton says Sasol could be out by now, if not so concerned about profit.

"Unfortunately, they've dragged their feet on this. They did say in 2011 that they would complete their exit from Iran, but they haven't done it yet. And they've specifically said that the reason it's taking so long is they want to extract maximum profits from the country. And we just don't think that's responsible," said Carleton.

As well, Sasol says its production in Iran is not used in the development of energy resources by Iran or for military purposes.
  
Carleton says UANI is a diverse group including Republicans, Democrats, Iranian Americans and former ambassadors.

Sasol expects to announce the sale of its Iran investment by June.

This is a statement from Alex Anderson from Sasol:

"Just to reiterate that the billboard in question is factually incorrect.

Sasol is divesting from Iran. This decision, to dispose of the Arya Sasol Polymer Company (ASPC), was announced in November 2011. Since then, Sasol has been actively engaged in the complex process of extricating the company, from Iran. Sasol also ceased all crude oil imports from Iran in January 2012.

While the divestiture from ASPC has taken longer than initially anticipated, Sasol announced last month that a memorandum of agreement had been signed, with a prospective buyer.  As of 28 February 2013, the investment has been classified as held-for-sale.  It is anticipated that an announcement of the sale will be made before the end of this current financial year (end June 2013) however, an announcement may be forthcoming, prior to that.

It should be noted that Sasol's activities in Iran are limited to the production of ethylene and polyethylene. These chemical products are not used in the development of energy resources by Iran, or for military purposes.  

Sasol remains compliant with all relevant legislation and has consistently disclosed its activities in Iran through our annual filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Sasol has also proactively engaged with the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of Treasury, as well as the State Department, to ensure these bodies are kept informed of the divestiture process.

With more than 34,000 employees worldwide, Sasol is committed to being a responsible corporate citizen that meets its obligations in a transparent and accountable manner. That commitment extends to Louisiana, where Sasol has been a member of the southwest Louisiana business community for more than a decade. 

We are proud to be pursuing a new phase of major growth – an investment that will create thousands of jobs, foster additional downstream manufacturing, support local businesses, and bring other major financial and quality of life benefits to Louisiana."

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