Fortis dodges Indonesian mud volcano responsibility

21 June 2007

BRUSSELS, 21 June 2007 (EMBARGOED) - Today, Fortis Bank responded to Friends of the Earth International regarding the bank's financing of the companies which caused a catastrophic mud volcano in Indonesia through gas exploration. [1]

Friends of the Earth International requested that Fortis uses its influence to make Lapindo Brantas - the operator of the gas exploration well - restore the damage caused by the mud volcano and compensate its victims, and make any further loans conditional on Lapindo Brantas paying compensation and restoring the damage. Fortis Bank has refused. [2]

Friends of the Earth insists that Fortis Bank does indeed have a responsibility as it finances two of the three owners of the Brantas Production Sharing Contract, the agreement under which the gas exploration is taking place. Fortis Bank is an important creditor and they provide other financial services to the companies.

"We are not asking Fortis to cancel their financial involvement with the two companies linked to the Indonesian mud flow, but we do insist that Fortis uses its influence and makes any new loans conditional on Lapindo paying compensation for all the damage it has caused in Sidoarjo," said Paul de Clerck, Corporates Campaigner at Friends of the Earth International.



[1] See press release and its links for full details and photos

[2] In its letter, Fortis Bank said: 'Fortis confirms its relationships with two of the involved companies, being Energi Mega Persada and Medco Energi Internasional. However, those relationships clearly deal with activities other than the Brantas Production Sharing Contract and Fortis has only a very limited and indirect role. This very limited influence and the fact that it is very clear Fortis is in no way directly involved in the Brantas Production Sharing Contract, has made us decide not to further address this situation.'