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Dutch banks and investors continue to finance supply communication equipment to Syria

By Oxfam novib / IKV Pax Christi | The Hague, Jan 17 2013

Research byIKV Pax Christi and Oxfam Novib in July 2012 showed that a large number of Dutch banks and pension funds invest in 2 companies that have supplied sensitive communication equipment (and 1 of them also weapons) to Syria. This equipment can be used for suppression of the opposition and human rights violations.

Now, six months later, according to our follow-up study we check if a number of banks and pension funds have taken measures: ABP, ING and Aegon, have addressed the problem with these companies for their delivery of equipment to Syria. This is positive, yet still insufficient since both companies have no assurance that they now no longer supply sensitive equipment or weapons to dictatorships or rogue regimes while in the meantime all the banks and pension funds simply invest in both companies. We find this unacceptable. If concrete talks do not yield concrete results, decent financial institutions should no longer to invest in these companies.

Incidentally,some pension funds, such as the Shell Pension Fund, did not cooperate in this investigation. They have no openness and we believe nothing has been done and they keep on investing in a company that has delivered sensitive equipment to Syria: this shows a total lack of social responsibility.

Investors like pension funds and banks should take 2 concrete steps: 1. Structurally improve their  policies on dictatorships and prevent investment in companies selling arms or communication equipment to dictators. 2. Start serious and timebound engagement processes with companies which they invest already in and are involved in this matter. If these companies make no formal announcement that they will never sell any arms or communication equipment anymore to any dictatorship within a couple of months, they should stop investing in these companies.



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