Saturday, 15 December 2007

121 Banks help companies violating human rights

Interesting information that i've got from the blog of Foreign Policy

121 Banks invest in companies violating fundamental human rights
You can download the full report here (39 page pdf file)

You're reading this blog and i have a question for you.
Did you hear this information from tv?
Did you hear this information from radio?
Did you read this information in a newspaper?

It's up to you where you put your money

Bank Secrets Cracked
Tuesday, 11 December 2007

New report reveals alarming investment practices by financial groups

Today, the financial watchdog Netwerk Vlaanderen launches the report ‘Bank Secrets’. The dossier details the investments by 121 financial groups in companies violating fundamental human rights. The investors channel money to 13 companies selling weapons to dictators, denying people access to land and clean water, co-operating with armed rebel groups and being involved in forced relocations and heavy and irreversible pollution.

International banks involved
121 banks from 24 different countries play a role in the financing of these companies, including banks based in Abu Dhabi, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, DRC, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, The Netherlands, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK, the US and the multilateral World Bank.

Netwerk Vlaanderen reports that for the period 2003 – 2007, loans add up to a total of US$13 billion. Furthermore, during the period 2004-2007 banks have arranged and underwritten bond issues to a total value of US$ 28.4 billion. During the same period, the companies were assisted in issuing shares to a total value of US$ 14.8 billion.

Investors complicit to human right abuses
Although the human rights abuses are well documented, financiers keep on supporting the involved companies. The lack of sustainability standards in their investments policies, allows them to channel money to companies like AviChina, which sells military material to China, Burma and Sudan. Because of violations of human rights in these countries, the European Union decided on an arms embargo. By financing AviChina, investors undermine this embargo.

Other reported investments include the support to mining companies which systematically pollute the environment. The Australian company Emperor Mines, for example, exploits a gold and silver mine in an ecologically and culturally precious area in Papua New Guinea. Emperor Mines dumps monthly 14.000 tuns of toxic waste - containing lead, chromium, arsenic, cadmium, nickel and copper - in the local river. Thousands of people depend on the water for fishery and small scale agriculture. This does not stop several major international financial groups from backing the company financially.

Netwerk Vlaanderen promotes an environmentally and socially responsible approach to money. Netwerk gives advice on sustainable saving and investment products. And Netwerk has been running the campaign "My Money. Clear Conscience?" to show banks where their responsibilities are around human rights abuses.
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