Banks break promise on investing in cluster bombs

9 June 2007

Banks break promise on investing in cluster bombs

SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen feels "deceived" by the ABN Amro bank and ING Postbank over the question of investments in cluster mutnitions. From a number of sources, including a report published today by Dutch NGO Oxfam Novib, it turns out that the banks are continuing, despite promises to the contrary, to invest in firms which deal in the controversial weapons.

Both banks have promised the SP that they would no longer be involved in such investments, citing their disastrous effects on civilian populations. Yet it now appears that this was no more than window dressing designed to counter disquiet amongst customers. “The banks plainly lied to us," says Van Velzen. For the SP, the maintenance by ING Postbank of investments in cluster munitions and other controversial weapons is reason enough to propose to the Party Council that the party's moneys be moved elsewhere.

Krista van Velzen According to Van Velzen, it is high time that the government banned investment in and production of these weapon systems. "Cluster munitions have already caused more than 100,000 casualties," she says. "There should be no question of investing in them. I recently proposed a bill which would ban them. It would be a fine thing if the government were to back this and, at the same time, ban investments in cluster munitions."

Van Velzen intends to bring forward another bill to that effect. Production, possession and use of these weapons has been banned in the Netherlands for ten years, but investment continues to be permitted. Finance Minister Wouter Bos refuses to introduce measures tackling this kind of deadly investment.

The SP held demonstrations outside branches of ABN Amro in 2002, when it was revealed that they held investments in a British firm which deals in these weapons, Insys. Following these actions as well as demonstrations at the shareholders' meeting CEO Rijkman Groenink announced that from 2004 ABN Amro would end all investment in Insys. Yet ABN Amro now turns out to be investing in three firms which produce cluster munitions.

In 2004 the SP turned its attention to ING Postbank, which was investing in landmines and cluster bombs. During a shareholders' meeting CEO Ewald Kist said "The enterprise is so big, give us the chance to investigate this. If it is as you say we will put an end to it." In 2005 ING announced that they would withdraw from any investment in production of controversial weapons such as anti-personnel mines, cluster munition, uranium weapons of atomic weapons. In addition, the bank would make no new investments on any kinds of arms manufacture or distribution. As it turns out, however, ING Postbank is now investing in ten different firms which produce cluster munitions

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