CBA’s reputation faces another test

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 07 Jul 2014

The Commonwealth Bank is again busily defending its damaged reputation only months after it was revealed it had been backing companies involved in grabbing land from poor communities in Brazil, Oxfam Australia said today.  

The business practices and transparency of Commonwealth Bank are under question following the fallout from the bank’s slow response to a financial planning scandal which has affected thousands of its customers. 

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Helen Szoke said it’s disappointing to see the Commonwealth Bank again drag its feet when it comes to improving poor practices both in Australia and in its overseas business dealings.

“This is not the first time the Commonwealth Bank has been slow to react to matters concerning the integrity and transparency of its business practices,” Dr Szoke said.

In April this year, Oxfam revealed the Commonwealth Bank, along with Westpac, ANZ and the National Australia Bank, has been backing companies forcing people from their homes without proper consent or compensation.

The Commonwealth Bank was found to have invested in an agribusiness giant, whose Brazilian sugar mill is sourcing sugar from people occupying land in spite of Brazilian laws determining that Indigenous people evicted for the sugar plantation are the true owners of the land.

“Disappointingly, the Commonwealth Bank is the only of the four banks who hasn’t made any moves to seriously consider this issue, which was raised with them almost five months ago,” Dr Szoke said.

While it is encouraging to see the bank is now taking action to respond to this latest issue and compensate affected customers, Oxfam is still waiting for it to act on concerns regarding land grabs.

“Already more than 2,000 Australians have written to Commonwealth Bank calling for it to take a Zero Tolerance for Land Grabs approach, and support justice for those communities affected.

“Commonwealth Bank have said they don’t want to take any events that may have reputational damage lightly, so we hope to see them act on this issue soon.”

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