October 8, 2020

The IFC  & The World Bank.

Boosting “shared prosperity”  by ‘knowingly profiting from the financing of murder’

As the US Supreme Court emerges as the far better court for justice than the alternative ICJ, ever more disturbing allegations against the World Bank’s contemptuous activities re emerge. On this occasion, scorching farmers on the South American continent.

The national Panama highlight reel over the last decade looks pretty good on paper.  Official statistics from 2009 show an increase in real gross domestic product of 3.69%. (1 )

Local farmers however do not appear to be allowed participate in this prosperity.  In the US federal court, Washington DC –  where the World Bank is headquartered – a complaint is lodged against the World Bank for ‘knowingly profiting from the financing of murder’.

The defendants are named as the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation as well its wholly owned subsidiary – the Asset Management Corporation (AMC). The World Bank through IFC clearly makes money from its investments, although exactly how much is unclear.

Lawyers representing the local farmers are suing the World Bank over its financing of the palm oil giant Dinant Corporation, which operates vast plantations in Bajo Aguán valley.   The privately held Dinant Corporation was founded by the late Miguel Facussé.

The NGO Earth Rights International legal department filed the suit on behalf of the farmers. The suit is seeking compensation for alleged killings & violence carried out by the company’s private security forces. Incidents involving private security forces are sadly commonplace in this part of the world where private security forces outnumber the national Honduran police five to one.(2)

The plaintiffs legal complaint is seeking compensation for “murders, torture, assault, battery, trespass, unjust enrichment and other acts of aggression”. The alleged violence describes decades of violence.

And rather unfortunately, this voices disturbing concerns about World Bank entities “knowingly profiting from the financing of murder”.

One of the farmers who elected to remain anonymous said: “We live from our families and our land and now we are left with nothing. We want justice … We have to move forward.” She also alleges that her husband was violently attacked & killed by Dinant Corporations private security personnel.

The suit filed by the plaintiffs is the culmination of several failed attempts to seek redress & justice locally in the South American courts.

While the IFC asserted “absolute immunity” under the 1945 International Organisations Immunities Act, in a previous but ongoing case brought by farmers in Gujarat, the named co-defendant, the wholly owned IFC subsidiary, the Asset Management Corporation, does not enjoy the same immunity.

This follows the World bank’s support for controversial land modernisation programmes(3) in the Bajo Aguán valley. A policy designed to install  large-scale plantations at the expense of small-scale farmers. This policy is cited as the basis for the 2009 IFC loans of unto $ 15 million to the Dinant Corporation in addition to  indirect investments  through the IFC AMC as well as the Fichosa bank in Honduras.

1 – https://www.statista.com/statistics/454665/gross-domestic-product-gdp-growth-rate-in-panama/ 

2 – https://newsarchive.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13032&LangID=E

3 – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282031689_Grabbing_Power_The_New_Struggles_for_Land_Food_and_Democracy_in_Northern_Honduras