OECD complaint

fighting apartheid’s banks through international law.

Our partner:

Evidence uncovered by Open Secrets shows that two European banks were at the centre of the international arms money-laundering machine that broke sanctions against the apartheid regime.

Open Secrets in partnership with the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) are taking the fight for accountability for these historic economic crimes to Europe using international accountability frameworks. We have laid a complaint against KBC Group and KBL European Private Bankers in terms of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

For nearly two decades, Belgium’s Kredietbank and its sister Kredietbank-Luxembourg (KBL) were responsible for facilitating up to 70% of all illegal arms transactions that allowed the apartheid government to secretly buy weapons despite mandatory United Nations arms sanctions. These and other private institutions have never been held accountable for their role in this global money-laundering scheme. In the face of widespread impunity, can these financial giants be held to account?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is one of the few international mechanisms available to hold businesses accountable for their role in human rights abuses. The OECD has National Contact Points (NCPs) in member countries that are responsible for following the OECD Guidelines to ensure that multinational enterprises operating in their jurisdictions comply with set business operations and accountability standards. In laying this complaint with the Belgium and Luxembourg NCPs, Open Secrets and CALS have brought the fight for accountability directly to the banks’ doorstep.

Mr Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, United Nations independent expert on the effects of foreign debt, made a powerful submission to the Belgium and Luxembourg OECD NCPs in support of our complaint.

the banks respond

read the statements made by KBC Group (formerly Kredietbank) and KBL European Private Bankers (formerly Kredietbank Luxembourg) in response to our complaint.

press statement

read our joint statement with CALS regarding Bohoslavsky’s amicus submission in support of our complaint, and our findings of potential conflicts of interest within the makeup of the Belgium and Luxembourg NCPs.