Greenpeace says HSBC among banks funding palm oil companies ‘destroying’ Indonesian rainforests

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017, 8:39pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017, 10:55pm

A report issued by Greenpeace on Tuesday accused HSBC of having loaned hundreds of millions of US dollars to some of the most destructive palm oil companies in Indonesia.

Greenpeace said that HSBC had issued loans and financial services to palm oil companies responsible for destroying rainforests, seizing land from locals, abusing workers and using child labour.

“HSBC claims it’s a respectable bank with responsible policies on deforestation. But somehow these fine words get forgotten when it’s time to sign the contracts. said Annisa Rahmawati, senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

In response to the allegations, HSBC issued a statement on its website.

“HSBC has no interest in financing customers involved in: illegal operations; land clearance by burning; the conversion of high conservation value areas; harmful or exploitative child labour or forced labour; the violation of the rights of local communities; and operations where there is significant social conflict,” the statement said.

The bank also said that it shared Greenpeace’s concern about deforestation in Indonesia, and appreciated the informed and constructive contribution which Greenpeace provided to both the palm oil and the forestry sectors.

An estimated 31 million hectares of Indonesia’s rainforest -- an area nearly the size of Germany -- has been destroyed since 1990 said Greenpeace citing its own analysis of figures released by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

The report from the non-government organisation said that HSBC had been part of banking syndicates that arranged US$16.3 billion of loans to six companies whose palm oil operations have destroyed vast areas of rainforest, peatland and orangutan habitat in Indonesia.

Greenpeace said its intention was not to single out HSBC, even as it remained one of the largest funders of the palm oil sector.

“It is by no means the only bank linked to destructive palm oil companies. Other banks’ policies and actions are also problematic,” the report said.