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US, European banks invest billions in cluster bombs: NGOs

by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) May 25, 2011
US and European financial firms are still investing billions of dollars in cluster bomb producers despite a global ban on a weapon that maims and kills civilians, NGOs said Wednesday.

The US financial titans JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are joined by Royal Bank of Scotland, Germany's Deutsche Bank and China's Changjiang Securities in a "hall of shame" of investors in cluster munitions.

They are among 166 private and public financial institutions from 15 countries that have invested a total of $39 billion in eight cluster munition producers since May 2008, according to a report by two Dutch non-governmental organisations that are members of the Cluster Munition Coalition.

While most investors are from countries that have yet to sign up to the international convention that bans cluster munitions, including the United States, 38 firms are from nine states that joined the accord.

The nine countries -- Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland and the Netherlands -- have not passed legislation that bans investment in cluster bomb producers.

Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and New Zealand are the only countries worldwide that have passed legislation prohibiting such investments, according to the report drafted by Netwerk Vlaanderen, which promotes responsible investment, and the peace group IKV Pax Christi.

A total of 26 financial institutions from EU states are still investing more than $3.0 billion in cluster munition producers.

"We are calling on EU member states and countries around the world to legislate against these explosive investments," said Roos Boer, the report's author.

The report said Moamer Kadhafi's troops in Libya used cluster munitions made by Spanish firm Instalaza to attack the rebel-held city of Misrata in mid-April.

When the munitions were produced and sold to Libya in 2007 -- before Spain banned cluster bombs -- Deutsche Bank, Britain's Barclay's and eight Spanish banks had outstanding loans to Instalaza, the report said.

So far 108 states have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which came into force in August 2010 and bans all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of bombs that spray deadly bomblets indiscriminantly over a large area.

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