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NGOs Call on Royal Bank of Scotland to recall Loan on Sakhalin II

Loan for controversial oil and gas project passed on to RBS
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By Pacific Environment | Edinburgh, London, Jan 17 2008
Nineteen local and international environmental organizations called today on Sir Fred Goodwin, CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), to recall a controversial $1 billion loan by ABN AMRO for the Russian energy giant, Gazprom’s purchase of a controlling share of the enormous Sakhalin II oil and gas project in Russia.[1] Sakhalin II has caused many severe environmental problems and violates the Equator Principles, to which RBS has signed. The groups also request to meet with Goodwin. RBS leads a consortium of banks that purchased ABN AMRO in 2007.[2]

Environmental groups opposed ABN AMRO financing for Sakhalin II because the project threatens the Western Gray Whale with extinction, damages hundreds of wild salmon runs, and negatively impacts local communities.

“When RBS bought ABN AMRO, it acquired the bank’s assets and liabilities, including financial and reputational, and thus the responsibility to address the wrongful financing of Sakhalin II,” said Dmitry Lisitsyn, Chairman, Sakhalin Environment Watch.[3]

Environmental groups and independent consultants of potential lenders, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development [EBRD] have for many years documented Sakhalin II’s severe, chronic and irreversible violations of bank environmental policies. For private banks, this includes the Equator Principles on environmental performance, which both RBS and ABN AMRO have committed to follow. EBRD eventually withdrew its consideration of Sakhalin II while many other banks suspended consideration of the project due to environmental problems.

“At the 2005 ABN AMRO Annual Meeting, Chief Executive Officer Rijkman Groenink committed to not finance Sakhalin II until it was brought into compliance with the Equator Principles,”[4] said Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth International, who was at the 2005 ABN AMRO Annual Meeting where the commitment was made. “So, it came as a complete shock when the bank circumvented the Principles by financing Sakhalin II through one of the project sponsors. RBS must now take responsibility to correct this damage.”

“The buck now stops at RBS,” said Doug Norlen, Policy Director, Pacific Environment.


Find here a copy of the letter.

Notes:
[1] See ABN Amro slammed for $1 billion Sakhalin II deal, Environmental Finance, London, 26 April, 2007.
[2] Other banks involved in the ABN AMRO acquisition are Fortis and Santander.
[3] Sakhalin Environment Watch is the lead Sakhalin Island-based group confronting the environmental problems of Sakhalin II.
[4] This commitment was made to environmental organizations by Mr. Groenink during questions and answers at the ABN AMRO 2005 Annual Meeting.

contact

Sakhalin Environment Watch - Dmitry Lisitsyn,
Tel: +7 4242 74 75 18

Pacific Environment - Doug Norlen
Tel: +1 202 465 1650

Friends of the Earth International - Paul de Clerck
Tel: +32-494380959

WWF UK - James Leaton
Tel: +44 148 341 2513

PLATFORM - Mika Minio-Paluello
Tel: +44 (0)20 7403 3738

Pacific Environment Website

ABN AMRO
ABN AMRO Bank N.V. is a Dutch state-owned bank with headquarters in Amsterdam. It was re-established, in its current form, in 2009 following the acquisition and break up…
RBS
RBS was founded in 1727 and is one of the major UK banks. RBS has 40 million customers using the financial services of over 30 brands, including NatWest, Direct Line, Churchill,…
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