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2 Jan 2019

Inclusive Development International

IDI and Equitable Cambodia highlight ANZ's refusal to pay displaced communities in Cambodia; bank asserts it did not fund the project

"ANZ Declines to "Do the Right Thing" for Displaced Cambodian Farmers," 18 December 2018

ANZ Banking Group violated its own policies and international human rights standards by financing a Cambodian sugar company that seized land from local farmers, according to a report released by an Australian government body that monitors corporate behavior overseas. In a rare rebuke of a commercial bank, the Australian National Contact Point (AusNCP) found it “difficult to reconcile” ANZ’s decision to finance Phnom Penh Sugar with the bank’s internal rules and the OECD Guidelines, an ethical business code that the Australian government has endorsed.

Despite CEO Shayne Elliott’s comments to an Australian Parliamentary Standing Committee in response to the report that the bank should do the right the thingANZ has decided to keep the profits it earned from the human rights violations in Cambodia, deprive the victims of badly needed redress, and continue to mislead the public about the situation.

In 2011, ANZ provided a $40 million loan to Phnom Penh Sugar, which had forcibly displaced hundreds of local farming families and employed school-aged children in dangerous conditions at its sugarcane plantation in southern Cambodia. The human rights risks of doing business with the sugar company “would likely have been readily apparent” to ANZ...

Below are four misleading statements made by Shayne Elliott in a letter to interested stakeholders justifying the decision not to provide redress:

  1. Shayne Elliott wrongly claims that the AusNCP report “confirms that ANZ did not fund PPS’ acquisition of land or plantation development, which is at the core of ‘land grab’ claims for compensation.”
  1. Shayne Elliott wrongly claims that the AusNCP report “confirms that PPS was not a customer of the bank at the time it acquired land for the plantation development.”
  1. Shayne Elliott wrongly claims that the European Union (EU) is involved in a process to attempt to resolve the matter and that this is a viable option available to the claimants to obtain redress.
  1. Shayne Elliott claims that ANZ has committed to ‘zero tolerance’ for improper land acquisition and has made significant changes to seek to improve its human rights due diligence and commitments, but recent major corporate loan deals show otherwise.