NEWS
RBS pulls out of Belarus after Index campaign
29 Aug 2011
BY EMILY BUTSELAAR

TAKE ACTION: Sign our petition now

The Royal Bank of Scotland has announced that it will no longer engage in “any type of capital-raising” on behalf of the government of Belarus after an Index on Censorship and Free Belarus Now campaign.

After senior RBS executives met with Index on Censorship and Free Belarus representatives in Edinburgh last week, the bank has made a public statement declaring that it will no longer sell Belarusian government bonds:

“Given sanctions, the deteriorating political situation in Belarus and the fact that it has reneged on key elements of the IMF programme, RBS has ceased any type of capital-raising for or on behalf of the Belarus Republic and we have no plans to change that position until these issues have been resolved. In assessing where we do business, we have a responsibility to consider a number of factors, including social and ethical issues and compliance with the letter and spirit of all international sanctions.

Mike Harris, Head of Advocacy at Index on Censorship, who attended the tense meeting with RBS along with Free Belarus Now representative’s Natalia Koliada and Professor Alan Flowers, welcomed the decision:

We’re delighted that RBS has heeded our calls to stop acting as a broker for authoritarian President Lukashenko. This couldn’t come at a more crucial time. The government of Belarus needs nearly $1bn a month in foreign capital. RBS has sent a clear signal not to risk investing in an regime that violates fundamental human rights and may not last.

RBS were involved in a syndicate alongside Sberbank (Russia), BNP Paribas (France) and Deutsche Bank (Germany) that sold $1bn Belarusian government bonds at 8.75 per cent (due August 2015) in August 2010, followed by a further issue of $850m of bonds in January 2011 (due January 2016) at a higher rate of 8.95 per cent.

Experts calculated these interest rates were twice the rate that would have been levied by the IMF, but the IMF would have required structural reforms. The IMF will make a decision on whether it will lend Belarus additional funds today (29 August). Governments including the British government oppose such a move until political and economic reforms are undertaken by the Republic of Belarus.

Index on Censorship and Free Belarus Now were particularly concerned that even after the oppressive post-election crackdown in which seven of the nine presidential candidates were arrested and 43 political prisoners were held, the bond sale by RBS continued.

Natalia Koliada of Free Belarus Now said:

When British businesses such as Grayling PR invest in Belarus, or RBS sell their government’s bonds, it helps support an authoritarian regime. In Belarus the KGB is to this day, torturing and kidnapping people. Before companies invest in the failing economy, all political prisoners including close friends of mine, must be released. I’m pleased by the news from RBS but we must convince the IMF not to bail out Lukashenko and prop up the dictatorship.

Index on Censorship was the first NGO to report allegations of torture in Belarus on 20 December last year.

The campaign by Index on Censorship and Free Belarus Now is continuing with pressure being put on the three remaining banks involved in the bond sale.

TAKE ACTION: Sign our petition now

Target: Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama, Rt Hon William Hague MP,UK Foreign Secretary, Hillary Clinton,US Secretary of State, Baroness Catherine Ashton,Security Policy of the European Union, Ban Ki-moon,Secretary General United Nations

Since December 19th 2010, the people of Belarus have suffered severe and sustained violations of their human rights and civil liberties, at the hands of Alexander Lukashenko, Europe’s last dictator. This petition calls on those with the power to affect clear and immediate action to help the people of Belarus. Please sign your name to show that you believe, as we do, that change must happen now because no human should be without rights.

Click here to sign

Latest posts by Emily Butselaar (see all)

3 responses to “RBS pulls out of Belarus after Index campaign”

  1. […] candidates, the mass arrests, the brutality of the state against its own people – 4 banks: the Royal Bank of Scotland, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Sberbank – all sold Belarusian government […]

  2. […] Terra Firma's Guy Hands prepares £4.2bn RBS Aviation bid Dublin-based aircraft leasing and management business, which has more than 250 aircraft on its books, has been put up for sale by Royal Bank of Scotland to reduce the bank's balance sheet. Read more on Daily Telegraph Terra Firma's Guy Hands prepares £4.2bn RBS Aviation bid City financier Guy Hands has emerged as a likely bidder for RBS Aviation Capital, which is valued at up to $ 6.8bn (£4.2bn). Read more on AFP Telegraph Finance News via Yahoo! UK & Ireland Finance Terra Firma's Guy Hands prepares £4.2bn RBS Aviation bid Dublin-based aircraft leasing and managem…om/_ylc=X3oDMTVjdTBmZmYxBF9TAzIwMjMxNTI3MDIEYXBwaWQDSFBqazI0SFYzNEdyZXNldnZ0MDR2emJCeHpIcDN6OS5nM0Q3LndhQTFOVFp5Sy5YQ1FKd3Jaa2JWOXVtTnBDNTlfY0QEY2xpZW50A2Jvc3MEc2VydmljZQNCT1NTBHNsawN0aXRsZQRzcmNwdmlkA1JLVjVWbUtJY3JyY2VHZ3l6Y1dROVdYUXJuZ0RBazRjdkJFQUF6S1c-/SIG=16iajeahm/**http%3A//telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/568300/s/168f759a/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Cfinance0Cnewsbysector0Ctransport0C86290A840CTerra0EFirmas0EGuy0EHands0Eprepares0E40B2bn0ERBS0EAviation0Ebid0Bhtml/story01.htm">Daily Telegraph Terra Firma's Guy Hands prepares £4.2bn RBS Aviation bid City financier Guy Hands has emerged as a likely bidder for RBS Aviation Capital, which is valued at up to $ 6.8bn (£4.2bn). Read more on AFP Telegraph Finance News via Yahoo! UK & Ireland Finance WordPress › Error […]

  3. […] Taken from: Index on Censorship » Blog Archive » RBS pulls out of Belarus after … […]

Index logo white

Join us to protect and promote freedom of speech in the UK and across the world.
Since 1972, Index on Censorship has been leading the campaign for free expression.
Our award-winning magazine originally provided the platform for the untold stories of dissidents and resistance from behind the Iron Curtain and is now a home for some of the greatest campaigning writers of our age.
Journalistic freedom, artistic expression, the right to protest, the right to speak your mind, wherever you live.  These are the founding principles of Index on Censorship.
So join us, by subscribing to our newsletter or making a donation, to use your voice to ensure that everyone else can be heard too.
Go to the Index on Censorship home page