Westpac Bank Criticized Over Logging Loans In Solomons

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Loans associated with companies logging illegally in islands

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Aug. 13, 2012) – The Australian Greens Party says it is looking for support for a parliamentary motion condemning Westpac bank's loan contracts to companies accused of illegal logging in Solomon Islands.

Senator Lee Rhiannon told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program while Westpac has not done anything illegal, it is associated with illegal logging practices through loan contracts.

"The bank really should immediately announce its plans to end links with destructive forestry and commit to contributing to forest restoration in the Solomon Islands," she said.

Senator Rhiannon said she had been negotiating with members of other parties to back the parliamentary motion. "They would be wise to put the pressure on Westpac."

Westpac rejects allegations

Westpac's general manager of Pacific banking, Greg Pawson, says the bank has already reduced its lending to the Solomon Islands logging industry.

"Indeed that comprehensive plan means that we would have reduced our exposure to that industry sector all together by the end of 2013," he told Radio Australia.

Senator Rhiannon has called on the bank to hand back awards it received in recognition of its environment credentials.

"If they don't remove themselves from loaning to the loggers and investigate how this has come about, and what restoration needs to be done, they clearly shouldn't receive those awards."

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