AXA, ING, Fortis, Dexia & KBC have invested over US$8 billion in companies & projects implicated in human rights violations, says Belgian NGO

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Company response
7 February 2006

[KBC response to Netwerk Vlaanderen report "Where do you draw the line?"

Author: KBC

...KBC promptly responded by inviting representatives of the Belgian NGO [Netwerk Vlaanderen] to take part in an active dialogue...As a result of these discussions, KBC notified the External Advisory Board for Sustainability Analysis , which subsequently recommended withdrawing some of the companies named by Netwerk Vlaanderen from KBC’s socially responsible investment (SRI) funds.

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Company response
1 February 2006

Response by Dexia: Major European banks have invested over $8 billion in “companies that abuse human rights”, according to NGO report.

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Article
27 January 2006

[DOC] [Dexia] - Principal observations concerning the report by Netwerk Vlaanderen on banks and human rights

Author: Dexia

In its report, Netwerk Vlaanderen indicates that the banks “invest” in fourteen companies “involves in serious breaches of human rights” and refers more particularly to Total and Wal Mart. A distinction should nonetheless be made between holdings on the one hand and the selection of companies within the context of investment fund management on behalf of our clients..

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Company response
24 January 2006

[Response of ING to Netwerk Vlaanderen report, "Where Do You Draw the Line?"

Author: ING

ING has kindly accepted the invitation of Netwerk-Vlaanderen to discuss the outcome of their report.

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Article
14 November 2005

Belgian bank groups invest in companies that abuse human rights

Author: Netwerk Vlaanderen

AXA, ING, Fortis, Dexia and KBC have invested more than US$ 8 billion (more than €6.6 billion) in companies that are involved in the violations of human rights... The report from Netwerk Vlaanderen...reveals investments in fourteen controversial companies and a number of large-scale infrastructure projects... The following conclusion can be drawn from the findings of the report: The polices of AXA, Dexia, Fortis, ING and KBC offer no guarantees against investments in the violation of human rights. [refers to Wal-Mart, Total]

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Article
1 November 2005

Where do you draw the line? - Research into the financial links between five bank groups and companies that abuse human rights

Author: Netwerk Vlaanderen [Belgium]

[describes human rights concerns regarding companies & projects in which AXA, Dexia, Fortis, ING & KBC have invested] Regarding credit, AXA informs us that every offer of credit is subject to ethical rules and the rule of law... AXA states that they wish to be a responsible shareholder in the use of their voting rights. In their written answer to Netwerk Vlaanderen, they state that voting is an efficient way to sanction companies that do not respect the ten basic principles of the Global Compact... Dexia has established an initiative, called Portfolio21, that offers insurance companies the opportunity avoid investing their insurance reserves in companies and governments that are involved in serious violations of workers' rights... Fortis...states that their ‘Global Credit Policy on Sustainability’ deals with several dimensions of human rights... Whenever Fortis is dealing with export or project finance, they state that they only invest in projects that are economically meaningful, that comply with international environmental standards, and make a socio-economic contribution. Fortis states explicitly that although the balance between these factors may be criticised by environmental organisation in some projects, this would not automatically exclude the project from financing... Fortis Investments, the portfolio manager for Fortis, has introduced systematic sustainability indicators in the management process... ING states that it has developed a separate policy for granting credit to companies that are involved in business that is not in agreement with ING’s social, ethical and environmental standards. This policy also deals with human rights... ING's ‘Global Voting Policy’ states that companies in its portfolio have to act responsibly to all stakeholders. This implies that they must take social and human rights issues into account in the areas in which they operate. ING states that it has used its voting rights, in the interests of the long term returns for customers, to ensure that this is the case... In their written response, they [KBC] state: "We offer no credit to clients which we know do not respect human rights". "This policy applies not only to companies, but also governments"... KBC states...that credit dossiers that do not fall under the Equator Principles must meet the same [Equator Principles] standards. [Companies with human rights concerns in which banks have invested: Wal-Mart, Jabil Circuit, Sanmina-SCI, Flextronics, Solectron, Celestica, Yue Yuen, Pou Chen, BP, Total, Petronas, Mitsui, DLH, Nippon Oil, Marubeni, Sakhalin project (developed by Shell, Mitsubishi), Trans-Thai-Malaysia Pipeline (developed by Petronas, PTT). Also refers to MOGE (Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprise), Henan Rebecca, Confecciones Ninos, IBM, HP, Dell, Nikomas Gemilang (part of Pou Chen), Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Puma, Citigroup, ABN AMRO, Mizuho, Société Générale, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking (part of Sumitomo Group), Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Hypovereinsbank (HVB), West LB, Royal Bank of Scotland, other companies linked to Burma: Unocal (part of Chevron), Ivanhoe Mines, Nissho Iwai (now Sojitz). Also refers to companies that have withdrawn from Burma: British American Tobacco, Heineken, Triumph International, Levi Strauss, Aon, Premier Oil; other banks participating in Equator Principles: Crédit Lyonnais (part of Crédit Agricole), Rabobank, BNP Paribas; positive policies & steps at Co-operative Bank (part of Co-operative Group), Triodos Bank, Fortis, VDK.]

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