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February 17, 2017

Corporate Reputation

Exxon adviser resigns over oil giant’s ‘targeted attacks’ on NGOs

A research scholar at New York University, Sarah Labowitz, has resigned from Exxon Mobil Corp.’s External Citizenship Advisory Panel, citing what she calls the oil giant’s “targeted attacks” on environmental groups under former CEO Rex Tillerson’s watch. In court papers filed Feb. 1, Exxon wrote that the Massachusetts and New York AGs were “at the forefront of a conspiracy to violate ExxonMobil’s constitutional rights,” as E&E News reported. Labowitz’s departure comes just days after Tillerson, the former Exxon head, took over as President Donald Trump’s secretary of state. He has faced serious questions about his ties to Russia and the company’s decades-long, well-documented climate change cover-up. He refused to discuss what the company knew about climate change and when it knew it, saying, “Since I’m no longer with Exxon Mobil, I can’t speak on their behalf.” (Huffington Post)


Samsung leader Lee Jae-yong arrested for bribery and embezzlement

Samsung’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong has been arrested for bribery, embezzlement and perjury in connection with South Korea’s corruption scandal. The country’s independent counsel investigating the corruption scandal involving Ms Park, the impeached President of South Korea, and her adviser has accused Mr Lee of bribing them with about Won43bn ($37m) to seek favours to smooth his succession and consolidate control over key group units. The special prosecutor has also accused him of hiding assets overseas and concealing profits made from illicit business activities. He has also been accused of lying under oath during a parliamentary hearing about his role in the influence-peddling scandal that led to parliamentary impeachment of Ms Park last December. Mr Lee has admitted making political donations but denied that they were aimed at getting any business favours in return. The arrest was welcomed by opposition political leaders. (Financial Times)

Corporate Governance

Corporate Governance Reform must account for long-term sustainability, says IEMA

Attempts to enhance the competitiveness of UK businesses through the Corporate Governance Reform should account for long-term financial performances covering environmental and social factors, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) has claimed. The UK Government launched an open consultation into Corporate Governance back in November 2016, which closes today.  The consultation for Corporate Governance reform calls on businesses and organisations to provide expert advice on issues regarding executive pay, employee and customer voice and corporate governance in large private businesses. IEMA’s response to the consultation lists five key recommendations to ensure that sustainability grows hand-in-hand with the competitiveness of UK businesses. IEMA’s chief policy advisor Martin Baxter said: “Companies have a critical role to play in enhancing economic and social value in a way that is low carbon, resource efficient, enhances natural capital and respects human rights.” (Edie)

Responsible investment

Swedish bank SEB issues first green bond raising $532 million

Swedish banking group SEB issued its first green bond last week, raising 500 million euros ($532 million) for loans to low-carbon projects, it said on Monday. Green bonds are debt instruments to raise funds for projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon transport. The market was worth around $93 billion last year and is expected to grow further in the coming years. Ratings agency Moody’s expects it to more than double in value this year, while others say growth could be slower. SEB has so far arranged the issuance of a total of $13.8 billion of green bonds for other players in the market but issued its own green bond for the first time on Feb. 10, it said in a statement. The money raised from the bond will be for green loans which will initially be offered to large companies and institutions, municipalities, county councils and housing associations, SEB added. (Reuters)


Samba drums up opposition to factory farming

Concern about the environmental impact of industrialised farming through the use of pesticides and the destruction of the rainforest has even spread to Brazil’s famous Rio carnival. One of the most famous samba schools, Imperatriz Leopoldinese, will take part later this month in the all-night parade in Rio de Janeiro, to highlight the plight of the Amazon’s indigenous Xingu population, whose reserve is now completely surrounded by cattle and soy fields. The Samba school’s concern is echoed in a report, published by the NGO GRAIN, that spells out the negative consequences of industrial food production, both on the environment and on people’s health. For instance, The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says that greenhouse gas emissions from industrial meat production are now higher than those of all transport systems combined. The solution GRAIN argues is to stop supporting the production and consumption of cheap industrial meat and dairy and instead to support small-scale, local agro-ecological production. (Climate News Network

Image source: Ecology, at Wikipedia. Public domain.