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5 Nov 2021

Michael Dickison, VOD

Cambodia: ANZ bank compensates families involved in land disputes with sugar companies in Kampong Speu province

"In ‘Watershed Moment,’ Bank Compensates ‘Blood Sugar’ Victim Families", 5 November 2021

Australia’s ANZ bank has returned its profits from its investment in a Cambodian “blood sugar” plantation to victim families who faced violent, forced evictions and child labor.

It’s the first time a commercial bank has provided compensation to individuals and communities harmed by the activities of a lending customer, said Inclusive Development International, an international NGO involved in facilitating ANZ’s compensation to families.

“This is a watershed moment, because it sets a precedent for the responsibility of banks to contribute to remedy when they have contributed to harms,” communications manager Mignon Lamia said...

In a press release, Inclusive Development International and local NGO Equitable Cambodia said ANZ financed the sugar company ...

“With this money, the more than one thousand families forcibly evicted from their land by Phnom Penh Sugar are rebuilding,” Eang Vuthy, executive director of Equitable Cambodia, said in the statement...

Vuthy noted that disputes were continuing over the land.

The two NGOs filed a complaint against ANZ on behalf of the victim families to AusNCP, the Australian government’s body to resolve claims of corporate misconduct.

The complaint detailed widespread human rights violations on the part of ANZ’s former customer Phnom Penh Sugar and argued that ANZ had contributed to and profited from those activities through its loan to the company, the NGOs said.

... “Now that ANZ has shown that banks can contribute to remedy and make a tangible, positive difference in the lives of affected people without the sky falling in for their business, we expect to see other banks follow suit,” said Natalie Bugalski, legal director of Inclusive Development International.