On 26 February 2016, the Canadian NCP received a complaint from five former employees of the Société Minière et Industrielle du Kivu (SOMINKI) located in Kalima (South Kivu) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The complaint alleges that Sominki went into liquidation in the late 1990s and that, in 1997, its mining assets (specifically, its mining titles) were transferred to another company called SAKIMA SARL. The complaint alleges that Sominki and SAKIMA SARL had a responsibility to pay severance and other benefits to 4,987 former employees, but did not. The complaint further alleges that Canadian multinational enterprise Banro Corporation, which owned 93% of SAKIMA SARL until 2002, breached the OECD Guidelines by failing to ensure the completion of the liquidation process, including the final settlement of the accounts for the 4,987 former workers of SOMINKI. As a result of the failure, the complaint alleges that the workers did not receive their severance pay, pension benefits, or other related benefits.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
The workers’ complaint was rejected by the Canadian NCP and the company Banro did not take steps to encourage reopening of the liquidation process and settlement of the accounts of the former workers (see related complaint “Former employees of Sominki vs. Banro Corporation”).
Following the failure of their first attempt at remedy via the good offices of the Canadian NCP, on 11 January 2021 the workers filed a second complaint to the U.S. NCP against a financier of Banro, Gramercy Funds LLP, based in the United States. The complaint alleges that Gramercy has also not met its due diligence responsibilities under the OECD Guidelines by failing to ensure that its client Banro resolves the outstanding lack of payment of severance and other benefits to the former workers of Sominki. The complaint asserts that Gramercy has particular leverage over Banro, since two members of Banro’s Board of Directors are appointed by and from Gramercy. The complaint observes that its own failure to pressure Banro to take action represents a failure of due diligence, particularly as Gramercy should have known of the recommendation by the Canadian NCP for Banro to attempt to resolve the workers’ concerns.