A new report is showing that Citi is not only one of the biggest funders of oil and gas operations in the Amazon, it is the number one influencer when it comes to sealing dirty deals in the vulnerable region. Citi has been involved in the most deals – over 130 deals – destroying the Amazon since 2009, which is a whopping one-quarter of all the deals examined by the Capitalizing on Collapse report by Stand.Earth.
It gets worse for Citi: the report showsCiti is the top bank lending to oil drillers in the Amazon and a major lender to oil traders who trade Amazon oil, pumping $4.3 billion into companies such as Gunvor, Shell, Trafigura and PT over the past 15 years.
It’s not a great look for a bank that constantly reminds investors of its commitment to net zero and which defends its Indigenous record. An examination of some of the deals Citi has been involved in should leave no one in any doubt about Citi’s duplicitousness when it comes to talk and action on climate.
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Rights violations, oil spills
A loan and a bond issuance in 2020 to help Chilean company GeoPark buy oil producer Amerisur drew Citi into the murky world of Indigenous rights violations, oil spills and even terrorism links. The Indigenous Siona peoples for years have alleged that Amerisur polluted their waterways and compromised their health and livelihoods, resulting in legal claims against the company. Despite these red flags Citi went ahead with a deal involving the controversial company.
Credibility for a filthy industry
Just last year Citi had a leading role in a bond issuance which raised funding for a gas thermoelectric plant in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Environmental groups warn the plant threatens local air and water quality and was rushed through without proper impact assessment.
In 2017, Citi was the sole underwriter on $970.5 million USD in bonds issued by Petroamazonas (now PetroEcuador) to repay debts to companies involved in oil drilling. Citi’s involvement in the deal also lent much needed credibility to the state-run oil company, who went on to start a massive drilling campaign in Yasuni National Park.
What’s at stake
Leading scientists are warning that in order to avert crossing the point where the Amazon rainforest spontaneously starts to convert to savannah, 75 to 80% of Amazonia must remain intact, according to the report. As of 2023, 74% of the Amazon remains intact.
The report grimly adds: “It is clearly past time for the oil and gas industry to exit Amazonia. The financial sector, however, continues to enable and support the expansion of oil and gas production.”
The major banks involved in this expansion appear deaf to these warnings. As one of the biggest culprits, Citi is in the firing line for activists concerned about the threat to the Amazon and its Indigenous communities. Will the bank remain a laggard or become a leader in this vital biosphere?