Commenting on the ANZ Bank’s announcement of an agreement with Cambodian families who lost their homes and livelihoods when forced off their land by a sugar company that the bank loaned money to in 2011, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said:
“Oxfam welcomes ANZ’s announcement and congratulates the bank for doing the right thing and recognising the hardships faced by the families affected by the sugar plantation financed by its loan. This agreement will allow the 1,200 families who lost everything to finally start to rebuild their lives.
“We would also like to acknowledge the extraordinary resilience and perseverance of the farmers and their families, who have engaged in this struggle for justice over so many years.
“In 2010 and 2011, land and housing in 20 villages in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, was bulldozed to establish the Phnom Penh Sugar (PPS) plantation. Many families forced from their homes and land have faced extreme poverty in the wake of losing their livelihoods.
“We know that Australians care about their banks’ lending practices. Since Oxfam’s first report on this issue in 2014, more than 18,000 Australians have written to their bank – including ANZ – and 20,000 people have signed a petition to call for a zero tolerance approach towards land grabs.
“ANZ agreeing to contribute the gross profit it earned from the loan to the affected families has created an important precedent for the banking sector and we congratulate ANZ on becoming a global leader regarding an agreement of this kind.
“It is important to see ANZ listen to its customers on this issue, as well as acting as a responsible financier.
“We look forward to ANZ fulfilling its commitment to develop an effective grievance mechanism for any future community complaints, as well as hoping the bank will provide the necessary disclosures of corporate loan and project finance information related to businesses engaged in high risk areas.”
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Notes to editors:
In 2014 Oxfam released a report, Banking on Shaky Ground – Australia’s big four banks and land grabs, which called on the big four banks to adopt a Zero Tolerance approach to land grabs throughout their business operations to inform their future lending practices and support justice for affected communities such as the Cambodian farming families.
Following Oxfam’s public campaigning, ANZ, National Australia Bank and Westpac all implemented policies on land related issues in regards to their lending.