I had a choice this year between going to the World Economic Forum at Davos and sticking pins in my eyeballs. I chose the latter – OK, hanging around the Sunshine Coast. (Actually, we saw Wayne manfully striding down Alexandra Parade the other day, yacking away on the mobile. Funnily enough, he didn’t stop to say hello.)
But for some strange reason, the World Economic Forum organisers keep sending me all the usual bumf as if I am attending. I just love the Global Risk Report, which is quite a highlight, but it is embargoed until next week so I won’t talk about it until then. (Tip – complete bollocks)
But I did receive this piece of tommy-rot from Greenpeace about its annual Public Eye Awards, which amazingly are announced at the Davos convention which is attended by all sorts of business types. (Last year, I couldn’t help but feel that many of these mushy business types had missed their true vocation – politics – although I guess many were just playing to the crowd, bad though that sort of behaviour was. For the sake of the shareholders, I hoped so.)
Online polls for Public Eye People’s Awards 2013 now open! Fighting corporate crime with the help of business ethicists, an ex-bank regulator and ad parodies
During the World Economic Forum in Davos at the end of January, the Berne Declaration and Greenpeace Switzerland will present the dreaded Public Eye Awards for the worst cases of corporate human rights abuses and environmental misdeeds. The polls for the Public Eye People’s Award open today at www.publiceye.ch and the site features a number of caustic ad parodies to mark the occasion. The nominees for this ignominious award include seven companies from four continents. At the press conference for the awards presentation in Davos the well-known ex-banking regulator William K. Black will talk about the criminal energy of corporations and the oligarchy in the finance industry.
Online voting for the worst offender of the year runs from today until midday January 23, 2013. This year’s shortlist features the seven most egregious cases of corporate crime selected by our newly conceived jury of internationally known business ethicists from 20 expert reports about potentially deserving candidates. The reports were compiled by the Institute for Business Ethics at the University of St. Gall. More than 50 NGOs from all over the globe nominated companies.
The French energy and transport conglomerate ALSTOM is involved in countless corruption scandals all over the world. The company’s practice of offering bribes to local politicians, sometimes in the seven figures, in order to secure contracts, and the frequency of new cases becoming known suggest that the company handles corruption as a deliberately chosen business strategy.
The Indian energy group COAL INDIA is the world’s largest coal producer. The company produces 400 million tons per year, operates 90% of all coal mines in India and continues to plan new coal-powered power plants that would make India the world’s third largest emitter of CO2. The coal mines destroy the habitats of numerous large mammals and rob tribal peoples of their homelands thus condemning them to a life in bitter poverty.
With some 650,000 security forces in its employ, the British security firm G4S fields the largest private army in the world. These security forces are often badly trained and paid. Operating in 125 countries, the company stands accused of countless violations of international law and human rights. G4S is present in the occupied Palestinian territories—manning checkpoints and managing prison security—and other regions of conflict, often serving repressive regimes such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain or Saudi-Arabia.
GOLDMAN SACHS is the vampire of finance capital. Never one to waste a crisis—whether a subprime mortgage bubble, a bank collapse, or a Euro-failure—Goldman Sachs makes good money from most of them. And the company does not shy away from deals that might ruin entire countries. Goldman’s financial constructions eventually ruined Greece and plunged the EU into the current financial crisis. And Goldman made good money this way: billions of dollars at the expense of European taxpayers. Goldman Sachs maintains an opaque and matchless global network of former bank managers in top political positions such as European Central Bank president Mario Draghi.
Managers of the world’s third largest platinum producer LONMIN urged the South African Mining Ministry to take „appropriate measures“ against striking miners at the Marikana mine—using the police or the army. 44 workers were shot dead by the police shortly thereafter and another 77 seriously injured. One day after the massacre Lonmin announced that all workers who continued to strike would be fired. The workers, who live in bitter poverty, walked off the job because Lonmin management had repeatedly failed to appear for scheduled wage negotiations.
The Swiss energy concern REPOWER wants to build a hard-coal power plant in the southern Italian region of Calabria, against the opposition of the local population. The site of the planned power plant is right in the middle of `Ndrangheta territory, Italy’s and probably Europe’s most influential Mafia-type alliance. Repower deliberately chose to engage with corrupt politicians in order to build an unwanted, socially and environmentally unsustainable coal power plant. The company’s determination prompted former Prime Minister Berlusconi to pass a „Repower Act“ that robs regions of their right to have a say in the decision.
SHELL wants to drill for oil in the Arctic at all costs. The oil company ignores the disaster warnings of scientists and millions of people who want to protect the arctic. Pete Slaiby, vice president of Shell Alaska told the BBC: «I’m not going to gloss things over: I think there will be oil spills, and no oil spill is ok.“ Neither this remarkable admission nor a series of incidents in the first round of preparations in the Arctic, however, have inspired Shell to invest more money in safety precautions. Shell also dropped the shift to renewable energies from its long-term strategy.
On Thursday, January 24, 2013 (9:00 a.m. at Kirchgemeindehaus Davos Platz) the WEF-critical Public Eye will focus on the irresponsible behavior of large corporations at an international press conference. The recipients of the Jury Award and the People’s Award will be presented there. The well-known economics professor and former banking regulator William K. Black (book: The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One) will speak about the criminal energy of corporations, the oligarchy in the finance industry and the state of democracy today.