Assessing the response of Dutch banks to severe human rights abuses in the extractive industry

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Netherlands -Three large Dutch banks lent billions to five mining, oil and gas companies involved in serious human rights violations. The companies did insufficient to nothing to compensate the victims.

New research by the Fair Bank Guide shows that between 2013 and 2016, ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank lent a total of 10 billion euros to five major mining, oil and gas companies involved in serious human rights violations. These include the Swedish Lundin Petroleum, which searched for oil in South Sudan between 1997 and 2003. A criminal investigation into this company is currently underway in Sweden for complicity in war crimes committed by warring parties in the battle for control of the oil fields.

Among the other companies covered by the Fair Bank Guide report are Freeport-McMoran and Shell. Both of these companies are involved in violations of the right to food, work, clean drinking water and health as a result of heavy water and agricultural pollution. ING lent a total of almost 5 billion euros to the five companies. ABN Amro lent a total of 2.4 billion to four of the five companies, and Rabobank 3.5 billion to two of the five. NIBC, Triodos Bank, de Volksbank (including ASN Bank) and Van Lanschot did not finance these companies.

According to international standards, banks should take action towards companies involved in human rights violations without compensating the population. However, ING, Rabobank and ABN Amro do not want to show whether they do this in practice. "The banks do not make the right balance between the interests of their customers and the interests of victims," ​​said Cor Oudes on behalf of the Fair Bank Guide. "The Dutch major banks are investing in these companies, but are refusing to provide insight into what they are doing to hold the companies accountable for structural human rights violations."

The Fair Bank Guide attempted for a year and a half to persuade the banks to cooperate in the investigation. According to the banks, this was not possible due to customer confidentiality, but in reality it is possible if the customer gives his consent. When asked, the banks indicated that they were not attempting to obtain this permission.

Read the report here

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