Mathias Bienstman, Netwerk Vlaanderen:
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Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mundiale (Italy), Friends of the Earth (France), Netwerk Vlaanderen (Belgium), Platform (UK), SETEM (Spain) and Urgewald (Germany) expose investments in harmful practices and companies of thirteen large European banks in this new website. Despite of the banking crisis, financial institutions continue to do harmful investments in a sphere of secrecy. To expose banks´ secrets, activists ‘undressed the banks' by staging parallel theatrical activities in the main European capitals.
Recent research done by these members of the BankTrack network uncovers the links between banks and blacklisted companies supporting dictators, causing irreversible environmental damage or producing indiscriminate weaponry, such as cluster munitions, The thirteen researched banks together invest 39.6 billion euros in 14 such companies and projects.
From 2005 to 2009, Banco Santander, Barclays, BBVA, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, HSBC, RBS, Société générale and Unicredit, invested massively in 14 blacklisted companies such as the cluster munition producer Textron, the Chinese oil company Petrochina and the Indian mining company Vedanta Resources.
The thirteen banks have financed 11,4 billion euros in loans to the 14 blacklisted companies as well as arranged and underwritten bond and share issues for a total value of 10,5 billion euros. In addition, the thirteen banks own or manage 17,7 billion euros of shares in the researched companies.
"These kind of harmful investments can no longer be tolerated. We think that financial institutions should take important environmental and human rights norms into consideration in their investment decisions. We ask for an ethical bottom line: no money for dictators, serious environmental destruction, controversial arms or violations of human rights."
"Investors should not wait until they are found legally responsible for the violations of human rights and serious environmental damage. They should make sure they don't generate profit from such controversial practices. Financial institutions have a huge leverage power and can contribute to positive change", said Mathias Bienstman from Netwerk Vlaanderen.
The website offers a world map illustrating the harmful investments of European banks, bank profiles and information on the financial links between the companies and the banks. The site also offers the possibility to send an e-card to the bank CEO and learn more about Ethical Banking as a sustainable option.