London, Jun 14 2013
Santander, announced yesterday as the winner of the Financial Times and
International Finance Corporation’s Sustainable Global Bank of the Year
award, has invested over one billion euros in sales and production of
weapons over the last ten years, highlights the campaigning network
BankTrack. Santander has provided finance to some of the world’s biggest arms
companies, including the likes of BAE Systems, EADS, Finmeccanica,
Thales, Honeywell and Lockheed Martin, many of whom are implicated in
the sale of arms to oppressive regimes (1). This is despite operating a
defence sector policy which states that it “will not finance projects
related to arms manufacturing, trade or distribution of anti-personnel
mines, cluster bombs or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons”.
Arms deals aside, Santander is also one of the principal financiers of
the highly controversial HidroAysen dam project in Chile, providing
finance to all of the key companies involved (2). The project will dam
two of Chile's most powerful and pristine rivers, and the transmission
lines for the project would require one of the world's longest clearcuts
– much of it through untouched temperate rainforests of a type found
nowhere else on the planet outside Patagonia (3).
Santander was presented with the award at an awards ceremony in London
last night. The other banks shortlisted for the award were Standard
Chartered and Morgan Stanley, neither of which fare any better in terms
of their finance for damaging projects around the world.
Standard Chartered, last year’s winner, is helping to finance at least
eight destructive ‘dodgy deals’ around the world. The projects, which
campaigners are fighting to reverse, include the extraction of Canada’s
vast tar sands, risky oil drilling in the Arctic Circle, a destructive
mega dam project in Laos, and the Sakhalin II oil platform, which is
endangering the last feeding ground of the critically endangered Western
Grey Whale (4).
Morgan Stanley, formerly one of the Big Four US investment banks, is a
key financer of mountaintop removal coal mining, a hugely ecologically
destructive technique where the tops of mountains are removed to extract
the coal inside (5).
“We urgently need a finance sector that is truly committed to
sustainability, and the FT and IFC’s Sustainable Finance Awards rightly
recognise steps in this direction. But with the Sustainable Global Bank
of the Year award, the FT and IFC are looking for something which is not
yet there,” said BankTrack director Johan Frijns.
“All of the shortlisted global banks are involved in financing socially
and environmentally devastating projects, in spite of a few flagship
green projects and some worthy policies. Setting up a sustainability
award especially for major global banks is premature; as of now, there
is no such thing as a ‘sustainable’ global bank”
- End -
(1) For full details of Santander’s finance for the arms trade, see:
http://www.bancaarmada.org/index.php/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72&Itemid=475. For details of sales to oppressive regimes, see for example http://www.caat.org.uk/resources/companies/.
(2) See “Financing of the companies involved in the HidroAysén project”, Profundo, 2010
(3) See http://www.banktrack.org/show/dodgydeals/hidroaysen_dam
(4) See http://www.banktrack.org/show/bankprofiles/standard_chartered
(5) Morgan Stanley is the sixth largest bank in the US in terms of
finance mountaintop removal coal mining, investing $437.5 million in
2012 alone, according to BankTrack member Rainforest Action Network. See