Banks loan billions to oil firms allegedly exporting low-grade fuel high in pollutants, says briefing
A new BankTrack briefing raises questions about how banks are conducting human rights due diligence. In response to research by Swiss NGO Public Eye accusing Switzerland-based oil trading companies of selling blends of low-grade fuel high in pollutants in African markets, BankTrack contacted 26 banks that have loaned billions to oil companies Trafigura and Vitol about their human rights obligations. BankTrack's "Human Rights Impact Briefing: Banks and Dirty Diesel" analyzes these responses and notes that none of the banks said that they had challenged the companies to stop the practice, nor planned to do so.
Responses by banks to the draft BankTrack briefing can be found here.
Trafigura and Vitol's responses to Public Eye's initial research and Public Eye's rejoinders can be found here.
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In September 2016, Swiss NGO Public Eye published a detailed investigation into the practice by Swiss commodity trading companies of exporting..."toxic fuels" to countries across Africa – fuels with sulphur levels far higher than those permitted in the companies' European home countries..."Banks and Dirty Diesel" investigates how 26 banks [that have each provided over $1 billion in finance to two Swiss oil companies, Trafigura and Vitol, since 2012] have fulfilled their responsibilities [under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights]...BankTrack received some form of response from 24 of the 26 banks...Of the nine banks which responded substantively...none reported pushing for changes in the companies' business practices. Some indicated explicitly that they were "satisfied" with the companies' approach, and most appear to have accepted...the companies' arguments that "unilateral action" from the companies to stop supplying or selling high sulphur fuel is either impossible or impractical. However, these claims have already been refuted by Public Eye, which has found no valid reason that companies producing and shipping fuels to Africa cannot deliver higher quality fuels than the national specification.