New BankTrack analysis reveals finance for RGE Group breaks all six of the Swiss bank’s exclusion rules
Credit Suisse is breaching its own rules on almost every count by financing pulp and paper company Royal Golden Eagle Group (RGE Group), an analysis by BankTrack shows. The analysis was published on the day that Greenpeace launched a petition calling on the bank to cut its ties with the company.
RGE is the owner of Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL), named by Greenpeace as the leading driver of deforestation for pulp in Indonesia. Last month, over 125,000 people signed a Greenpeace petition which successfully pressured the Spanish bank Santander to commit to stop financing APRIL until it improves its record on deforestation.
The Dutch bank ABN Amro followed Santander early this month by giving Greenpeace in the Netherlands a similar commitment not to finance the company until it improves. This leaves Credit Suisse as the only known European bank linked to the RGE Group which has not stepped away from the company.
To date, Credit Suisse has declared that finance for the Group is consistent with the bank’s Forestry and Agribusiness Policy, of which a summary is available on the bank’s website. However, BankTrack has found evidence that the company breaches every single one of the six exclusion criteria in the policy.
Credit Suisse’s policy describes six “excluded activities”:
- Protected areas: APRIL breaches the bank’s ban on doing business with forestry companies with operations in protected areas, including primary tropical moist forests and High Conservation Value forests.
- Illegal logging: APRIL has breached numerous Indonesian laws, despite the bank’s ban on banking companies “where there are credible doubts as to the legality of such logging operations”.
- Uncontrolled and/or illegal use of fire: Numerous fire hotspots have been found in APRIL concessions, and in 2014 the company failed a government Compliance Audit on preventing forest and land fires. One APRIL supplier was categorised as ‘extremely non-compliant’.
- Violation of local laws: APRIL has knowingly pulped natural forest wood from concessions whose licenses were issued through corrupt practices, in breach of the Credit Suisse policy not to finance forestry companies with “credible evidence of material violations” of local laws on environmental or social matters.
- Major resettlements: While the bank has committed not to finance operations that require resettlement of substantial numbers of people, APRIL’s operations have required the removal of at least three villages in Indonesia’s Riau Province.
- Human rights: In a number of cases, APRIL has been linked to violence used against local communities and indigenous groups protesting its operations, often by the company’s own security services.
Credit Suisse cannot keep standing by a company which is devastating Indonesia’s rainforest, when its forest policy should have excluded APRIL from the outset. Other banks have done the right thing in stepping aside from this company and building the pressure on it to stop the chainsaws and call an immediate moratorium on deforestation, as well as addressing its broader social conflicts and environmental impacts.
BankTrack, together with Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and the Environmental Paper Network, is calling on Credit Suisse to follow the example set by Santander and ABN AMRO in recent weeks and commit not to provide further financial support to the RGE Group or APRIL.
Merel van der Mark, email@example.com, 0031 24 324 9220