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Complaint filed in the US for adverse impacts of Buchanan Renewables in Liberia

Liberian farmers, charcoal producers and workers have filed a complaint with the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), one of the financiers of Buchanan Renewables’ operations in Liberia. They seek redress from Buchanan Renewables, a shell company based in the Netherlands, and call on the U.S. government to investigate its role in the harms that have occurred.

Between 2009 and 2011, Buchanan Renewables received a total amount of $216,7 million from OPIC to harvest rubber trees for biomass, rejuvenate family farms and generate sustainable energy for Liberia. Instead, the project harmed its intended beneficiaries. Buchanan Renewables liquidated its operations after minority shareholders Vattenfall and Swedfund had divested from the company, leaving many seeking promised assistance and compensation for work-related injuries.

“Buchanan Renewables failed to deliver on its promises of permanent jobs, green energy, poverty alleviation, and economic development, and instead left behind a legacy of abuse,” said  Alfred Brownell of Green Advocates International, a Liberian organization representing the victims.

The complaint was based in part on research by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), which documented how farmers and charcoal producers were harmed by the company’s activities and its sudden departure. “This was a high-risk investment,” explains Tim Steinweg, a senior researcher investigating the project for SOMO.  “It is unconscionable that, as an OPIC-financed development project, there was not a proper exit strategy in place to mitigate the harmful impacts of the project’s failure. ”

“OPIC’s due diligence rules, which were flouted in this case, were designed to avoid this type of harm,” said Sarah Singh of Accountability Counsel, a legal organization representing victims. “OPIC must immediately investigate its involvement and take responsibility for its role in funding these abuses, which continue to cause suffering today.”

For more information, a video about the complaint, and a petition, please visit: http://www.accountabilitycounsel.org/communities/current-cases/liberia-biomass-project-of-buchanan-renewables/

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