ANZ Royal Bank abandons Cambodian communities affected by land grabs and forcible evictions

Publish Date: 
Thursday, July 17, 2014

On July 7th, Equitable Cambodia and Inclusive Development International issued a statement to express disappointment over ANZ Bank’s decision to cut business ties with the Cambodian firm Phnom Penh Sugar (PP Sugar) without first ensuring redress for the grave harms caused to hundreds of families by the plantation that ANZ Bank financed.

ANZ Royal Bank is a controlled entity of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ), the third largest bank in Australia. ANZ is a signatory to the Equator Principles (EPs), which regulates corporations for financing projects with environmental and social policies.

ANZ, through its Cambodian operation ANZ Royal Bank, has invested in PP Sugar. This plantation affected hundreds of local families being dispossessed of their farmland and forests and over a hundred families forcibly evicted from their homes between 2010 and 2011. The plantation has also been implicated in the widespread use of child labor, arbitrary arrests and intimidation of villagers, and dangerous working conditions that have caused the death of several workers.

Starting in February 2010, PP Sugar conducted land seizures without due procedures or adequate compensation. For example, one village, Pis, was totally destroyed and its 67 residents were forcibly evicted by the company staff, accompanied by military personnel, police and other authorities, and were relocated onto small 40x50m residential plots of rocky land. Some of the families were compensated between $25 and $500, or were granted replacement lands that were smaller and of an inferior quality compared to that which was seized.  Even worse, many families whose lands were deprived have yet to receive any compensation.

Eang Vuthy, Executive Director of Equitable Cambodia, said, “this is a clear betrayal of the social and environmental commitments that ANZ boasts about on its website.” Vuthy explained, “At the first place, ANZ Royal should not have financed a project, which has massively infringed fundamental human rights. Secondly, ANZ Royal should not have ignored the fact that PP Sugar did not make up for the local residents as much as what the evicted has lost.”

The bank decided to pull its investment out after it had profited from the project., This retreat is unfair to the local Cambodians, who have lived on the land since birth but have been excluded from the economic development taking place in the area. More info

More info here.