Oxfam links banks to ‘land grabs’

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Oxfam yesterday accused Australia’s big four banks of financing companies the charity said were linked to illegal logging, forced evictions and child labour.

A report by the aid group highlighted cases from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Cambodia, Indonesia and Brazil in which Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank or ANZ directly or indirectly funded illegal “land grabs”.

 “From PNG and Cambodia to Indonesia and Brazil, our banks have backed companies accused of forcing people from their land,” Oxfam Australia chief executive Helen Szoke said in launching “Banking on Shaky Ground – Australia’s big banks and land grabs”.

The banks declined to comment on links to specific companies highlighted by Oxfam Australia, but emphasised their commitment to ethical lending practices.

Oxfam said banks were investing in Asia and the Pacific, but were unaware of, or failing to respond, to the risks of doing business there. – Sapa-AFP

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