Chronicle of the Intervention of the Shareholder’s Meeting of Santander Bank in 2015

For a year the Banking Armada campaign and the Santander Bank without Arms Campaign have participated in the General shareholders meeting of Santander Bank, the first of which to be held under new bank management. The objective was  again to urge the bank to amend its investment policy and financing the arms industry. The two activists who attended the Board focused their interventions on issues such as financial support for arms companies, and controversial investments such as the Jaitapur project in India and proposed dams on the Madeira River in Brazil.

In the first intervention, Maria de Lluc Bagur denounced the controversial business that Santander Bank has maintained in India and Brazil and urged leadership to respect the human rights of people affected by these investments. First is the Jaitapur project by the French nuclear giant, Areva, in which Santander has €500 Million invested along with others to build the largest nuclear plant in the world. Both the Indian government and businesses involved in the project have confirmed that the construction of the nuclear power plant is directly related to the fact that neighboring countries possess nuclear weapons, and the project is a  part of Asian nuclear escalation. Second, the activist asked Mrs. Botín about the financing by Santander Bank to create Rio Madeira damns in Brazil, which violates the rights of indigenous people in the region.

In the second intervention Jose María Moya asked about the €1.323 Million in loans and bonds granted by Santander Bank to arms companies thus far, and the reported €3.06 Million he received in 2013 from Boeing, the second largest manufacturer of aircraft and suppliers of helicopters to the army of Israel. He reminded Ms. Botín that with this type of investment, Banco Santander is the second Spanish bank to allocate more capital to the arms industry. Since 2005, the Spanish company has invested at least €1.723 million to support arms manufacturers. According to the report “Do not bank on the bomb” by the NGO PAX, in July of last year, Santander bank allocated $106 million to finance the company Finmeccanica. This company is accused of providing weapons to the Qaddafi government and is related to WASS (Whitehead underwater systems), the global leader of all underwater weapons systems. Also last year Santander approved a loan of €138 million, ThyssenKrupp, a German company that produces Navy submarines to Israel, prepared to carry nuclear warheads.

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In response to the claims of the activists, Ana Botín gave the same speech his father had the year previous, rejecting what was exposed and responding with the usual: Banco Santander “respects the conventions and treaties on non-proliferation of banned weapons, other regulations, and all international control guidelines in this matter.” Also, like last year, the president reaffirmed that his bank does not finance cluster bombs or nuclear weapons makers, though made no reference to such weapons banned by international treaties. On its investments in India and Brazil, he only denied the bank’s participation in the Jaitapur project, and claimed to have launched an action plan for the management of social and environmental impacts of the Madeira River project, but did not answer the question Mary of Luc Bagur whether Santander Bank continues to fund the dam project in Brazil. In short, the new president of Santander Bank , Ana Botin, next in line to the questions that that plagued his father, denied their investments in the defense industry and avoided answering questions from activists.