Brussels, Mar 19 2009
Customers of BNP Paribas run a very high risk of harmful
investments. This is revealed in new research that forms part of the
"Banking Secrets" campaign of Netwerk Vlaanderen. The French bank
owns or manages 657 million dollars in shares of ten companies that harm people
and the environment, such as mining company Barrick Gold and Freeport McMoran.
Netwerk Vlaanderen conducted research into the harmful investments made by AXA,
Citibank, Dexia, Deutsche Bank, ING, KBC and Triodos Bank regarding
environment, peace, freedom & democracy and decent working conditions. The
results are disappointing.
must urgently put conditions in place for support for banks. Only the
banks that put a stop to harmful
investments should be eligible for government support", according to
Mathias Bienstman, campaigner with Netwerk Vlaanderen.
BNP Paribas scores badly in ethical ranking of banks.
The Banking Secrets research conducted by Netwerk
Vlaanderen includes a ranking of the banks and their harmful investments. BNP
Paribas makes an entry to this ranking in a very bad position. Customers of the French bank run a
very high risk of harmful investments. BNP Paribas is active in the financing
of the most damaging mining projects, such as the projects undertaken by
Barrick Gold, Freeport McMoran and Vedanta. BNP Paribas has extended credit to
all of these companies, and also issued bonds in Barrick Gold. Furthermore, BNP
Paribas owns or manages 657 million dollar worth of shares in these three
companies and seven other controversial companies: Anglogold Ashanti, EADS,
GAIL, Goldcorp, Newmont Mining, Total and Wal-Mart.
Harmful investments of other large banks
The research also shows that AXA, ING, Dexia, KBC,
Deutsche Bank, Citibank and BNP Paribas hold a combined total of more than 14
billion dollars investments in 14 companies that harm people and the
environment. There are clear differences amongst the researched banks. Deutsche
bank, Citibank and BNP Paribas are very active in the financing of damaging
companies via extending credits, issuing bonds and owning or managing shares.
Dexia and KBC are hardly active in these markets. The new results are displayed
on the website www.banksecrets.be. A world map shows the various projects and
companies that harm people and the planet, and the banks that invest in them.
Need for government intervention
The CEOs of the large banks are giving evidence in the
Belgian parliament. Netwerk Vlaanderen asks that attention is not only directed
to speculative investments that were more risky than expected. Banks have been
investing for many years in business practices that contravene national laws or
international agreements regarding human rights and the environment. “It is now
up to the government to place conditions on the support and guarantees that it
is giving to the banks. Respect for
minimum norms regarding environmental, social and governance is one field.
Banks can show this by putting far-reaching and transparent policies in
place", according to Mathias Bienstman from Netwerk Vlaanderen.