The complainants allege that ANZ Bank financially supports logging companies engaged in human rights abuses and environmental destruction in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Specifically, the complaints state that ANZ is “actively facilitating and supporting” the PNG operations of Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau (RH), a company whose operations involve “serious human rights abuses, environmentally devastating logging practices and repeated, serious illegal conduct” including:
By failing to take basic steps to ensure that its clients respect human rights, ANZ becomes closely associated with violations of those rights.
While ANZ has discussed community concerns with RH on these issues, this engagement has not demonstrated positive outcomes and is likely to be ineffective, as it does not occur within an articulated and binding framework of acceptable minimum environmental and human rights standards required as a condition for doing business with the bank.
ANZ has not adopted a system of environmental management appropriate to its business in that it has not adopted forestry and human rights policies that set acceptable minimum standards for client engagement, in contrast to a number of other multinational financial institutions.
Two OECD Guidelines complaints against ANZ have been filed: the first at the Australian NCP (ANCP) by ACF et al. and the second at the New Zealand NCP (NZ NCP) by the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Version 2000 Chapter II
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.1
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.10
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.2
- Version 2000 Chapter V
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.1
After filing the first complaint in August 2006, ACF submitted supplementary evidence to the ANCP regarding the existence of an investment nexus between ANZ and RH in September 2006.
In October 2006, the ANCP rejected the complaint, claiming that ANZ’s loans and guarantees do not constitute an “investment nexus” between the bank and the logging company. The ANCP also claimed it was unable to ascertain whether ANZ’s degree of influence is sufficient to trigger the supply chain provision in the Guidelines.
ACF responded by stating its disappointment in the ANCP’s highly restrictive interpretation of the “investment nexus”. According to ACF, the Australian NCP excluded consideration of the complaint despite an undisputed debt financing link between ANZ Bank and the logging company. In addition, the rejection appears to be inconsistent with other complaints in which debt financing relationships have triggered the Guidelines’ complaint procedure.
The second complaint in New Zealand was rejected by the NZ NCP in February 2008. The NCP argued that, given the lack of a sufficient link between RH and ANZ’s New Zealand-based business and the previous examination of the issue by the Australian Government, further examination of the complaint was not warranted and would not contribute to the purposes and effectiveness of the Guidelines.