RBS awards bonuses for destroying lives

RBS awards bonuses for destroying lives

Date: 25 February 2010

WDM are not happy about  today’s Royal Bank of Scotland’s annual results and bonuses announcements.

As you may know, we are campaigning for RBS to phase out its investments in mining companies like Vedanta and projects, like oil extraction from tar sands that are linked with controversial human rights violations. We are arguing that the bonuses awarded for investments that hurt the lives of ordinary people and the publically owned bank should be benefitting society in the UK and around the world.“What really annoys people is what these top bankers are being paid their bonuses for”, said Julian Oram, head of policy. “Is it for investing public money into job-creating small businesses, better public transport systems or a greener economy that benefits society as a whole? No. It’s for trying to make a quick buck out of dirty and destructive projects like tar sands that make bankers rich but everyone else worse off.

“Until the government directs RBS and the other bailed out banks to linking bonuses to ‘doing good’ rather than acting with the same callous disregard to fairness, or people and the planet that they have over recent years people will continue to get riled by issue of executive pay.”

Together with People & Planet and PLATFORM we have launched two legal actions against the government for failing to assess the human rights and climate impacts of allowing RBS to invest in destructive fossil fuel companies.

Examples of projects that our money has been spent on

India – Vedanta mining

RBS was the lead financial adviser to Sterlite, which is 60% owned by Vedanta, in a recent takeover bid. The bank and its ABN Amro subsidiary gave letters of credit worth $100m (£60m) to Sterlite, which is India’s biggest copper producer.[i] Vedanta is very controversial and has an appalling record on human rights.

Uganda/ Democratic Republic of Congo – oil exploration

In March 2009, RBS was part of a consortium of 14 banks that lent $1,890 million to the Irish company Tullow Oil – providing in the region of $100 million itself. The bank had already helped raise £402 million by placing shares for Tullow in January 2009. In early 2009, the company announced a major discovery of 400-1000 million barrels by Lake Albert in Uganda, just on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Tullow also holds oil exploration rights across the border in North Kivu in the DRC, which continues to be torn by strife after more than a decade of resource-driven civil war. The border area has seen some of the fiercest fighting take place as rival armies and militias have struggled for control. An additional 30,000 refugees were displaced in North Kivu during two weeks of fighting in March, adding to the existing 1.4 million internally displaced people in the region.

Canada – tar sands

Research from the Rainforest Action Network indicates that since Oct. 13, 2008 – when HM Treasury announced its recapitalization of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group – RBS has extended at least $2.7 billion in debt/equity issuance underwritings to companies that own and/or are actively building tar sands extraction infrastructure and/or tar sands oil pipelines in Alberta, Canada.

Bangladesh – open cast coal mine

RBS subsidiary, ABN Amro Bank NV has 4.75% share of GCM Resources, the UK company pushing for an open cast mine in Bangladesh. There has been fervent local opposition as it would displace approx 40, 000 people and impact on access to clean water for approx 100, 000 people

Wales – open cast coal mine

RBS has taken part in loaning £115m to Hargreaves Services, the coal operator. Hargreaves has plans to extract 7m tonnes of coal by developing one of the largest opencast coal mines in the country at Tower Colliery, near the coal-mine-cum-protest-site Ffos-y-fran in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales. This type of mining has been likened to a financial hit-and-run, bringing a few jobs for a couple of years and potentially leaving widespread asthma and other public health and environmental effects in the community for years to come.