BBVA Takes Notice

For another year, the Banking Armada campaign has intervened in the General shareholders meeting of BBVA. This intervention was done with the intention of urging the bank to amend its investing policy and stop financing the arms industry. The two activists from the campaign who attended the meeting focused their criticisms on issues such as BBVA investments in extractive industries in Colombia as well as financial contributions to enterprises producing nuclear weapons.

BBVA is the Spanish bank that had the most capital invested in the arms industry from 2005-2013, a sum totaling €3.626 million. Among these controversial investments, one that stands out is to the company Drummond, responsible for the extraction of coal in many mines in Colombia. BBVA financed this company with €200 Million and is accused of supporting crimes and violence committed by paramilitaries in return for guaranteeing their operation within Colombia.

BBVA also has significant investments in the nuclear weapon industry. From 2011-2014 the Spanish bank allocated €2.739 Million for investments in other companies engaged in the manufacture or testing of nuclear weapons. The most notable of such investments is in the company AECOM, a key player in modernizing the nuclear arsenal of the United States. AECOM is a part of National Security Technologies which is the only arena for nuclear weapons testing in the country.

In response to these claims, the president of BBVA, Francisco González, said that it is a “very delicate” issue and that there are “many interests at stake, some of which are difficult to evaluate”. He argued that “BBVA not invest or finance actions related to the manufacturing, development, maintenance or trade of controversial weapons companies” and compared to the level of detail in exposure provided by activists , they will continue “looking to find errors in our actions and attempt to improve our weapons financing policy”.  Gonzalez repeated, as in years before, that the entity remains “the highest international standard” in this area of weapons financing. However he did not deny any of the allegations brought about by members of the Banking Armada.