PRESS RELEASE – Dirty profits – Billions in Profits at the Expense of Human Rights

(Berlin/Brussels/Warsaw/Maputo, 10 December 2012) – Embargoed 11:00 CET –

Leading European financial institutions are heavily invested in high-risk business activities/corporations that violate human rights. This is why the NGO-campaign, FACING FINANCE, chose today, the International Day of Human Rights, to unveil their report DIRTY PROFITS.

“Many global companies are in constant struggle with established international, social, and environmental norms and standards; nevertheless, banks and insurance companies still welcome their business,” laments Thomas Kuechenmeister from FACING FINANCE.

This is especially true for mining giants like Vale, BHP Billiton, and Glencore, or the oil multinational Shell. Furthermore, arms producers such as Lockheed Martin, Rheinmetall, and EADS cause damage beyond that which can be inflicted by conventional weapons – they violate anti-corruption standards, export policies, and basic human rights. DIRTY PROFITS also exposes electronics and textile companies like Hon Hai (Foxconn), Samsung, and H&M, which profit from child labor and other labor law violations.

In 2011, the 28 companies investigated by FACING FINANCE achieved a combined turnover of over €1.22 trillion and a combined net profit of €106 billion. These companies received financial support from leading financial institutions like BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, ING, Allianz, and UniCredit, among others. During the period of research, (since January, 2010), transactions between the 28 investigated companies and 16 investigated European financial institutions amounted to a sum of over €44 billion,  according to a PROFUNDO research, ordered by Facing Finance.

“The figures show that despite all the rhetoric, financial service providers are just beginning in terms of sustainability and still urgently need to assume more responsibility. They need comprehensive and binding rules to end the financing of human rights violations and environmental damage,” affirms Barbara Happe of urgewald.

The situation in Mozambique exemplifies the necessity of these demands. Mozambique is a country that has been suffering the consequences of mining projects for many years. The Mozal aluminum smelter operated by BHP Billiton has been especially criticized for on-going violations of environmental standards and labour rights. Organizations like Justiça Ambiental are actively against such projects. For example, they assist local groups in submitting complaints to ombudsman of the World Bank’s IFC. “If you invest in BHP Billiton, you make yourself complicit in the human rights abuses and environmental destruction that burden us every day,” warns Samuel Mondlane of Justiça Ambiental.

For inquiries and interview requests, please contact us at:
Thomas Küchenmeister, FACING FINANCE: +49 (0)175-49 64 082
Dr. Barbara Happe, urgewald e.V.: +49 (0)172-68 14 474