EBRD Board of Directors must face responsibility for long-term partner EPS’ wrongdoings
Belgrade – Today, over 70 protesters from the Vreoci community is gathering in front of the Belgrade EBRD offices to protest abusive practices by state-owned Elektroprivreda Srbija (EPS), in London, the bank’s Board of Directors is congratulating itself for another profitable deal with the energy company. The EBRD cannot continue to brush off responsibility for corruption acts and human rights abuses committed by their long-term business partner.
25 July 2011
Belgrade – Today, over 70 protesters from the Vreoci community is gathering in front of the Belgrade EBRD offices to protest abusive practices by state-owned Elektroprivreda Srbija (EPS) (1), in London, the bank’s Board of Directors is congratulating itself for another profitable deal with the energy company. The EBRD cannot continue to brush off responsibility for corruption acts and human rights abuses committed by their long-term business partner.
On Tuesday, the EBRD is deciding whether to invest 80 million euros in the Kolubara „environmental improvement” project in Serbia (2). With this money, EPS will expand lignite production at Kolubara at the cost of forcefully resettling local communities. Hundreds of families in Vreoci oppose resettlement to the proposed location, which is threatened by landslides. Nevertheless, EPS has for more than two weeks started digging out the local cemetery under the protection of a massive police presence. The EBRD is satisfied that its money will be used on a coal field neighbouring the one where the violent resettlements are taking place.
This year, EPS is under investigation by both the police and the national anti-corruption body: allegedly, Kolubara management has been implicated in a number of different schemes involving equipment procurement and leasing and the sale of coal (3). Accusations of mismanagement surround also one of the four previous EPS-managed projects sponsored by the EBRD, dating back from 2003 (4). The EBRD again declares itself satisfied with the fact that EPS has responded correctly to the corruption accusations, by changing the management of Kolubara at both corporate and mine level.
„Instead of always being satisfied with damage-control by EPS, the EBRD Board would be better advised to withhold these precious tens of millions of euros from the coal-burning behemoth at least until the company proves itself to be an ethical business in front of Serbian authorities and public,” comments Zvezdan Kalmar, Bankwatch Serbian national coordinator. „Meanwhile, the EBRD could use the money to encourage renewables and energy efficiency projects by smaller Serbian companies, who so much need the market access.”
For more information, contact:
Bankwatch Serbian national coordinator
zvezdan AT bankwatch.org
Bankwatch energy coordinator
piotrt AT bankwatch.org
Notes for the editors:
1. Images from the protest can be found at http://bit.ly/qYI2WS ; a protest letter signed by 27 Serbian and international NGOs is available in pdf.
2. Project Summary Document: http://www.ebrd.com/english/pages/project/psd/2002/27005.shtml
3. National television channel B92 aired a series of documentary films exploring the nature and extent of the misuse of financial and other resources at the Kolubara complex and the financial and political repercussions. Links available via: https://bankwatch.org/sites/default/files/Briefing-KolubaraLignite-20Jun2011.pdf
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