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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs say bank must remain to clean mess

NGOs say bank must remain to clean mess

Rights groups yesterday called on ANZ bank to help address alleged labour and environmental violations at Phnom Penh Sugar Company instead of walking away from the problem.

A joint statement released yesterday by Equitable Cambodia and Inclusive Development International said it would be wrong for the banking giant to withdraw its financing for the firm and absolve itself of responsibility.

“Exiting the relationship would be an all-too-easy route for ANZ to take to try to make this story go away, but the fact is this story is not going away for the hundreds of families who have been impoverished by the project ANZ made possible,” David Pred, managing associate of Inclusive Development International, said in the statement.

The call from NGOs comes a week after environmental auditing documents leaked to the Post pegged the multinational bank’s local venture, ANZ Royal, as a financier of ruling party senator Ly Yong Phat’s controversial sugar plantation.

Phnom Penh Sugar Company has been caught up in forced land evictions and child labour scandals. The files revealed that the sugar producer had ignored 60 per cent of the recommendations made by an auditing firm on a range of issues, from worker health and safety to relocation monitoring.

ANZ Royal said in response to the revelations last week that it would exit any relationship if a company did not meet the bank's own environmental and social standards. But the bank indicated that in the case of Phnom Penh Sugar Company, it would continue to engage.

“Our position hasn’t changed, we are still engaging with the case, including trying to facilitate a meeting between the customer and the NGOs/community, which awaits a response from Equitable Cambodia,” Grant Knuckey, ANZ Royal’s CEO, said in an email.

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