NGOs file OECD complaint against Dutch bank ING for financing alleged palm oil abuses; incl. company comments
On 5 July, Friends of the Earth groups from the Netherlands, Liberia and Indonesia filed a complaint against Dutch bank ING Group with the Dutch National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The complaint concerns ING Group's financing of companies that have allegedly been involved in environmental and human rights abuses in the palm oil sector: Noble Group, Bolloré Group/Socfin and Wilmar International.
Dutch NGO Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) and the other complainants and supporters demand that ING Group divests from these companies as well as from palm oil in general. The organisations also ask Dutch authorities to acknowledge that ING Group contributed to the harms by not acting properly to address them, and call on the government to implement mandatory regulation for the financial sector.
ING Group provided a statement on the same day, available below, along with Milieudefensie's press release.
On 20 January 2020, the Dutch NCP declared admissable the complaint alleging ING Bank "contributed to" palm oil abuses. According to Friends of the Earth, the complaint is one of the first to argue a financial sector actor 'contributed to' rather than being merely being 'linked to' abuses through its financing of palm oil companies.
We have collected materials on the other named companies over the past years, such as: a report on alleged forest destruction for palm oil in Indonesia, including a Noble Group comment; coverage of a lawsuit filed by NGOs against Bolloré over alleged conditions at its Cameroon palm oil plantation; a Socfin response to allegations of land grabbing for palm oil in Sierra Leone; as well as statements and comments of Wilmar International from 2019 and 2016 regarding alleged human and labour rights abuses, including child labour, at palm oil plantations in Indonesia and elsewhere.
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