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Intl. Finance Corp. claims immunity & moves to dismiss US lawsuit by Indian communities over financing of coal-fired plant

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11 November 2015

Indian fishermen & farmers sue Intl. Finance Corp. in US over environmental damage from power plant

Author: Matt Kennard & Claire Provost, Guardian (UK)

“Fishermen and farmers sue World Bank lending arm over power plant in India”, 10 Nov 2015

In the first case of its kind against the private investment arm of the World Bank, fishermen and farmers from north-western India are suing the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in a US federal court over a $450m loan for a coal-fired power plant.  The communities say the IFC has “destroyed their livelihoods” by reducing fish stocks and damaging the environment…[T]he IFC says the complaint…“must be dismissed in its entirety” because the IFC is entitled to immunity…“What are they afraid of?” asks Kristen Genovese, from [SOMO]…“you can sue your government, you can sue corporations. Why can’t you sue the Bank? Why is it above the law? You need to have checks and balances.”  At the moment…“the entire World Bank group essentially plays by its own rules”…In 2008, [the IFC] announced a $450m loan for the…“ultra mega power plant”…The project was billed as critical to providing cheap and reliable power for India’s industrialisation…[L]ocal communities say it has done more harm than good…The current case is important…not just for the plaintiffs to “get redress for their own suffering but also to ensure that other communities around the world don’t endure what they’ve endured”…

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13 July 2015

World Bank Group Claims "Absolute Immunity" Allows it to Avoid Responsibility for Destructive Coal Power Plant

Author: EarthRights International

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group’s private lending arm, is claiming in court that it cannot be sued for enabling projects that destroy local communities’ health and livelihoods, no matter how much harm it has caused. In April, fishing communities and farmers represented by EarthRights International (ERI) filed suit in Washington, D.C., against the IFC over the destruction of their livelihoods and property and threats to their health caused by the IFC-funded Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant in Gujarat, India. The IFC has now asked the federal court to dismiss the case based on its claim that it is entitled to “absolute immunity.”…The IFC argues that it should not be accountable in court because the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the IFC’s internal accountability mechanism, “provides Plaintiffs with an alternative means of recourse.”

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1 July 2015

Jam, et al. v. International Finance Corporation - Defendant International Finance Corporation's Memorandum of Law in Support of its Motion to Dismiss

Author: White & Case, counsel for International Finance Corporation

This case involves the alleged environmental impact of a power plant in Gujarat, India…The sole U.S. touch-point of this entire case is that one minority lender to the project company is an international organization, International Finance Corporation (“IFC”), which happens to be head-quartered in Washington, but with which Plaintiffs have no legal relationship. Given the identity of the parties and the locus of the claims, this Court should dismiss this action in its entirety with prejudice for the following reasons. First, IFC is entitled to absolute immunity under the International Organizations Immunities Act…Second, the complaint should be dismissed in its entirety on grounds of forum non conveniens…Third, Plaintiffs have failed to join at least three indispensable parties to this suit…

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