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13 Oct 2018

Holly Robertson, ABC News

ANZ boss says bank will consider compensating Cambodians forced off farms for sugar plantation

12 October 2018

ANZ will consider whether to compensate hundreds of Cambodian families who were forcibly evicted from their farms to make way for a sugar plantation and refinery partially financed by the bank, chief executive Shayne Elliott has told a parliamentary committee.

...Phnom Penh Sugar, which received a $40 million loan from ANZ joint venture ANZ Royal Bank in 2011, forced hundreds of families off their farming land to make way for a sugar plantation and refinery in Cambodia's Kampong Speu province, and employed child labourers in dangerous conditions.

...Elliott said the bank provided financing for purposes of building the refinery, not to acquire the plantation land, but "that doesn't excuse it".

"This is a dreadful situation and nobody's proud of the situation that's happened," he said.

..."The profit on something like that would have been quite de minimus, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do the right thing," he said.

...Australian National Contact Point recommended that ANZ should introduce internal human rights compliance procedures, improve its screening of potential clients, and establish a grievance resolution mechanism.

...Elliott said the bank's human rights processes were "radically different" now, partly as a result of the Phnom Penh Sugar debacle.

"I believe that transaction would not get approved at ANZ today."