Pages tagged "'agm"

Did You Hear The One About The Bank That Couldn't Count?

BoA_ActionLast week, Bank of America (BofA) admitted a huge accounting error—for several years, it claimed a whopping $4 billion more in capital than it actually has. The day BofA announced its blunder, its shares closed down more than six percent, the stock’s biggest drop in two years.

But BofA had to come clean. Regulators, shareholders and consumers need an accurate picture of banks' balance sheets.

BofA’s admission gives us a rare chance to raise a far bigger question: What else are they hiding?

It's time for BofA to be transparent about something much more vital to the future of the planet: just how much its investments contribute to climate change.

Tell Bank of America: Come clean on funding climate change!

I'm writing to you from BofA's Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I'm about to speak in support of a crucial shareholder resolution. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility—backed by investors worth almost $35 billion—is pushing the bank to report on how much carbon pollution gets spewed into the atmosphere by the companies it funds.

BofA is a top funder of the biggest drivers of climate change: coal, oil, and gas corporations, as well as carbon–intensive electricity producers. But it's refusing to report on its financed carbon emissions. BofA knows that opening its books will create pressure to cut emissions by moving away from fossil fuels.

Now is the time to push BofA on climate change. Last week's accounting revelations were a big black eye, and at today's AGM, the bank needs to reassure its shareholders and customers that it doesn't have billions of dollars of climate liabilities on its books.

We need you to add your voice: Tell Bank of America to come clean on climate accounting!

Pushing for transparency is just the first step. We're also calling on BofA to cut its carbon pollution by stopping funding coal, the top contributor to climate change. I'll be making that call here at the AGM in just a few minutes, and ally organizations will speak to coal's cost beyond climate: mountains with their tops blown off in West Virginia, rivers wrecked by coal ash here in North Carolina, and human rights abuses by coal company security forces in Colombia.

Will you stand with us? Tell BofA that today's the day to come clean on funding climate change—and to cut its emissions by ending coal financing.

Investors Don’t Want To Go To Hell With Chevron

[caption id="attachment_13652" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Humberto Piaguaje, a leader of the Secoya tribe in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest, addresses the crowd outside Chevron's shareholder meeting. Click image to see more pics from the protest."]Humberto at CVX AGM 2011[/caption] The fallout from Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting continues. In addition to the protesters outside the meeting, Chevron found itself “under siege” inside the meeting as well, according to the San Jose Mercury News. In fact, it faced something of a shareholder insurrection, as major investors (who collectively manage over $160 billion in assets) accused Chevron management of exercising “poor judgment” and called on the company to rethink its endless litigation strategy in Ecuador. Chevron, in typically cavalier fashion, dismissed these shareholder concerns. But Sanford Lewis, a lawyer for Trillium Asset Management, one of the institutional investors that signed a letter calling on Chevron’s management to finally settle the Ecuador lawsuit and clean up the Amazon, fired back with a great question Chevron doesn’t seem to have considered:
Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson dismissed the shareholder pressure in an email, saying the company would fight the "fraudulent" award, not settle it. In 2009, a different company spokesman, Donald Campbell, outlined the oil giant's legal strategy: "We're going to fight this until hell freezes over. And then we'll fight it out on the ice." Trillium's lawyer Sanford Lewis told Courthouse News that this sort of talk makes shareholders uneasy. "Do they want to go to hell with Chevron?" Lewis asked.
It would seem that Chevron shareholders most certainly do not want to go to hell with the company. New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli serves as trustee for the $140 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, which also signed the letter calling on Chevron to settle with the Ecuadoreans, and he has said: “It’s time for Chevron to face reality. The effects of this horrific, uncontrolled pollution of the Amazon rainforest are still being felt today. Investors don’t derive any benefit from this never-ending courtroom drama.” Chevron has been anything but forthcoming with its shareholders about the liability it is facing in Ecuador, where the company has been found guilty of massively polluting the Amazon and ordered to pay $18 billion to clean up its mess. The lack of full disclosure has prompted Trillium to file a request with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asking for an investigation into whether Chevron has “appropriately disclosed to its shareholders the scope and magnitude of financial and operational risk” from the guilty verdict in Ecuador. Thirty-thousand Ecuadoreans are demanding justice in the Amazon. Americans are standing with them. Even Chevron’s shareholders want the company to do the right thing and clean up the Ecuadorean Amazon. It must be getting increasingly lonely at the top of Chevron.

Chevron Responds To Human Suffering With Cowardly Evasions and Duplicitous Attacks

Last week three courageous Ecuadoreans traveled from the Amazon to Chevron’s shareholder meeting in San Ramon, CA to take their calls for justice directly to the company's management, board, and shareholders. Even I was shocked by Chevron's callousness and disregard for the human suffering caused by its business operations. I wrote a post last Wednesday discussing the anger, frustration, and unwavering resolve that the Ecuadoreans expressed upon leaving the shareholder meeting. Servio Curipoma, a farmer who lost both his parents and his sister to cancer after Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001, dumped a massive amount of oil pollution near their home in the Ecuadorean Amazon, gave the most impassioned and moving speech of the day. See for yourself (Servio starts speaking at about 00:40): [youtube KBFInCkFi70 550] What was Chevron's response when confronted with the very face of the human suffering it has caused in Ecuador? CEO John Watson responded that it is the oil giant that is the victim in Ecuador. Then, in an even more cowardly move, the husband of a senior Chevron employee posing as an independent journalist emailed some donors to RAN and Amazon Watch to get quotes for a hit piece he was planning on publishing. Humberto Piaguaje, a leader of the Secoya people in the Ecuadorean Amazon, stood up at Chevron's shareholder meeting to tell Watson and Chevron's shareholders, ‎"I want to remind you that our fight in Ecuador is for life and justice. You must own up to your responsibility to the people in the Amazon." As the SF Chronicle reported, Watson later responded to these pleas for justice by saying that Chevron is the one "being victimized." It was a shameful attempt to distract from the overwhelming evidence of Chevron's guilt — evidence that led to a conviction in February and a judgment of $18 billion that the company has been ordered to pay to clean up its mess in the Amazon. But it was only one of the heartless and cowardly responses Chevron cooked up last week. [caption id="attachment_13601" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Servio Curipoma outside Chevron AGM. Click image to see more photos from the protest."]Servio Curipoma outside Chevron AGM[/caption] As reported by Triple Pundit, Alex Thorne — husband of Kristen Thorne, Chevron’s senior policy advisor on environment and energy issues — “decided that he would help his wife out” by emailing donors to RAN and Amazon Watch while representing himself as an independent journalist to ask them if it was time to reconsider their support of both organizations given the fraud allegations made as part of Chevron’s attack-the-victims legal strategy. Thorne conveniently left out his last name and didn’t mention the publication he was writing for in his emails. Thorne’s came out the next day and it was every bit as factually challenged and one-sided as you’d expect. There's no doubt he was working purely to regurgitate Chevron's talking points, whether he is actually paid by Chevron or not. The piece was so bad, in fact, that Thorne didn't even put his name on it. He also didn’t allow comments on the post. What does it say about Chevron’s PR and legal strategy when even the guy doing the company’s dirty work won’t put his name on it or allow feedback from his audience? I think we all know exactly what that says. This was no doubt retaliation by Chevron after some of the truths RAN and Amazon Watch have helped expose about the company led to several influential investors calling on Chevron to settle with the Ecuadoreans. "In failing to negotiate a reasonable settlement prior to the Ecuadorian court's ruling against the company, we believe that Chevron displayed poor judgment that has led investors to question whether our Company's leadership can properly manage the array of environmental challenges and risks that it faces," the investors wrote in a letter to Chevron. All of which just supports what I described last week as “my main takeaway” from the protests inside and outside of Chevron’s shareholder meeting: There is no amount of human suffering so great that Chevron can’t ignore all that in its quest for power and money.

RAN Activists Unfurl 50' Banner: "Chevron Guilty-Clean Up Amazon"

UPDATE (10:57AM PST 05/24/11): All of the activists were released from jail early this morning. Everyone was charged with misdemeanors. UPDATE (7:34PM PST): The seven activists who pulled off today's action at Chevron's Richmond refinery are in Contra Costa County Jail being processed. They're all in good spirits and proud of what they accomplished today. Show your support by sharing this totally awesome video featuring the activists who pulled off today's action and many of the Ecuadoreans whose call for Americans to stand in solidarity they were responding to: [youtube e5b6L8qliKs 550] You can stand with the Ecuadoreans too. Sign the petition at Original post follows: Climbers are hanging from the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge right now, calling on Chevron to take responsibility for its oil pollution in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Last week, the 30,000 Ecuadoreans affected by Chevron’s toxic legacy in the Amazon issued a moving "Open Letter to the United States" calling on Americans to stand with them in demanding justice. Today, a group of RAN activists heeded their call by unfurling a banner reading “Chevron Guilty, Clean Up Ecuador” from the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in the shadow of Chevron’s Richmond refinery: [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="550" caption="© Copyright 2011 by Eric Slomanson"][/caption] Climber Matt Leonard reports while hanging from the Richmond Bridge: [youtube dmJggIwQbpc 550] My report from near the Richmond Bridge: [youtube jZ2-WxYEidQ 550] Stay tuned, more video is coming soon. You can stand up to Chevron too by signing this solidarity petition right now. Wednesday is Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting, and I’ll be joining a delegation of Ecuadoreans who will be in attendance in order to take their calls for justice directly to the company’s management, shareholders, and board members. (If you're in the Bay Area, you can join the protest outside of Chevron's shareholder meeting.) In February, Chevron was found guilty by an Ecuadorean court of one of the largest environmental disasters of our time and ordered to pay $18 billion in compensatory and punitive damages. This is a historic judgment that is comparable in size only to BP’s promised $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. But Chevron has vowed that it will never pay to clean up its mess in Ecuador. That’s why it’s so important that we all stand in solidarity with the Ecuadoreans. We’re trying to get 30,000 Americans to sign a solidarity petition, one for each of the Ecuadoreans affected by Chevron’s reckless pursuit of profits. The petition will be delivered to Chevron by me and the Ecuadorean delegation. It can be found at Our friends at Amazon Watch made a multimedia presentation out of the open letter. Check it out: [youtube Au5ZNf_Kmqs 550] You too can heed the Ecuadoreans’ call for Americans to stand in solidarity with them by signing the petition now. But hurry! There are only 48 hours left for you to sign. [set_id=72157626663870189]

Standing Up To Chevron

I’m an American and I’m standing up to Chevron to demand justice in Ecuador. A delegation of Ecuadoreans will be coming up for the shareholder meeting so that they can take their calls for justice directly to Chevron’s shareholders, management, and board members. They’ve just issued a passionate appeal to Americans to stand in solidarity with them. Together with the folks at Amazon Watch, we're trying to get 30,000 Americans to sign this petition, one for each of the Ecuadoreans affected by Chevron’s business operations — and we only have a week to do it! Check out the “Open letter to America” video below, and sign the petition. The Ecuadorean delegation will be delivering this petition with all its signatures to Chevron’s management at the shareholder meeting. Tell Chevron to Clean Up Ecuador Now! Why am I standing up to Chevron? Because it’s the right thing to do. When BP, a UK-based company, came to the US and devastated the Gulf Coast, the company was forced to pay $20 billion to clean up and compensate the victims of its pollution. When Chevron or any other American company goes to a foreign country and does the same thing — and in this case, the pollution was DELIBERATELY dumped in the Ecuadorean Amazon — we should hold it to the same standard. I’ll be attending the protest outside Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting next week, demanding accountability from the company in Ecuador; in Richmond, California; in Nigeria; in Australia; and in countless other communities around the world that have been impacted by Chevron's reckless pursuit of profits. We can only hold Chevron accountable if we all stand up together. Please sign the petition so the Ecuadorean delegation can deliver your call for justice directly to Chevron on May 25th. And if you're in the Bay Area, come to the protest outside Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting. Here's the transcript of the open letter in English:
To the citizens of the United States, We are the mothers of families. We are fathers who work very hard every day. We are grandparents who hold on to many memories. We imagine that you are the same as us, With hearts that beat, With eyes that appreciate the beauty of the world around us, With feet that walk on the same planet as ours. We would like to share with you a story that you all should know. It occurred in a place called the Ecuadorean Amazon almost 50 years ago. We had clean water, a healthy source of food, medicinal plants to cure our ailments. In other words, we lived with dignity and in harmony with nature. But in that moment an oil company arrived whose name we remember well: Texaco. We were not familiar with oil. They told us that oil was good, that it would bring progress for the future. We remember the oil spills, almost daily. The crude oil would come down the rivers like black sheets. We remember the toxic waters they dumped in our rivers. We remember the pain our children felt after bathing in the rivers contaminated with oil. We remember the illnesses, the deformations, the cancer. We remember those who died. We do not know you. We only know the company Texaco, now called Chevron. We are a people of great courage and humility who have been in a struggle for many years to demand justice, asking that the company take responsibility for all the harm they have caused. Last February, Chevron was found guilty by an Ecuadorean court for the harm they caused to our people, and to our lands. But the company has said it will never respect the court’s decision, that it will never take responsibility for the damages, and that it will keep fighting until Hell freezes over. We want to reach your hearts, so that you know the truth. Chevron has poisoned us. It has also poisoned the image of the United States and of its citizens. On behalf of the thousands of victims in Ecuador, we write this letter to you, so that you can do something, now, and demand that Chevron clean up the poison that they left in our Amazon, and clean up the image of you and your country. Thank you.

Bank of Montreal Confronted on Indigenous Rights

[caption id="attachment_12250" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Geraldine Thomas-Flurer"]Geraldine Thomas-Flurer. Photo by Amanda MacDonald.[/caption] CEO Bill Downe's unmistakable message at today's Shareholder Meeting was that Bank of Montreal has changed. During his 10 minute speech, "change" showed up 14 times! The "world has changed" he declared. "Embrace change." "If there’s one thing I hope you take away from these remarks," he concluded, "it’s that BMO is changing." I half expected him to break into his best David Bowie: "Ch Ch Ch Ch Ch CHANGE-ES!!" Geraldine Thomas-Flurer had a very different message. She came to the meeting representing the Yinka Dene alliance, a union of five First Nations of British Columbia resisting a $5.5 billion tar sands oil pipeline proposed to run directly through their traditional territory, threatening salmon runs that have defined her community for centuries. From Geraldine's perspective, BMO looked as culpable today as it did in 2007, when the bank underwrote $286 million of credit to Enbridge, the company seeking to build the pipeline. (Check back soon for a link to her  speech to shareholders and those of Ann Ketlo and Jasmine Thomas, also from the Yinka Dene Alliance). In fact a review of BMO's public disclosures shows that the bank's Indigenous rights standards are essentially the same today as they were when the bank was founded in 1817—non-existent. So while BMO may be changing in some ways, it is falling behind in terms of its handling of Indigenous rights. Both TD Bank and Royal Bank of Canada have policies in place that affirm the right of First Nations to free, prior, informed consent over the use of their traditional lands and resources. It's time BMO made the change to do the same. Thanks to everyone who turned out to support the Yinka Dene, more than 50 of you by our count.  And thanks to Andrea MacDonald for her great photos of the rally.

Coal makes BoA's Ken Lewis red in the face at AGM

Today's Bank of America shareholder meeting was a packed house and CEO Ken Lewis was not having a very good day. Poor guy, first he had to deal with the crazy shareholder lady who launched into a monologue about how much she loved him, then with shareholder annoyance over the impending Countrywide deal and THEN there was coal. By the end of the meeting, I was quite sure that all that jaw clenching would have ground his teeth to nubs. By far the strongest showing at the event came from the eight people who spoke out against Bank of America's financing of coal-fired power plants and Mountaintop Removal. Two coal-field residents (one of whom is a third-generation coal-miner) had this to say: “I came all the way from Kentucky because I am trying to save my homeland from the total destruction caused by Mountaintop Removal (MTR) Coal Mining, which Bank of America is a leading financier of. The southern Appalachian Mountains have some of the most biodiverse forests in the world; MTR coal producers, funded by Bank of America, are exploding the tops off these mountains, and off our culture. This is not just about saving the climate, but also about the survival of our culture for our grandchildren and future generations.” Carl Shoupe, Third generation Kentucky coal miner, city Council Member of Benham, Kentucky, and member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. “While Bank of America’s Carbon Principles are important, I live with the extraction end of coal mining—Mountaintop Removal coal mining is responsible for the destruction of more than a million acres of the world’s most ancient mountains, and the transformation of healthy mountain woodlands into toxic sludge that has clogged more than 700 miles of rivers and streams. Bank of America must stop funding Mountaintop Removal coal mining, and, instead, start investing in clean, renewable energies.” Teri Blanton, a survivor of a Superfund toxic waste site near her home in Harlan County, Kentucky, one of the poorest counties in Appalachia. Then two Charlotte residents spoke eloquently, one about why Bank of America's coal investments made her concerned for her grandchildrens' futures and the other about why she had transferred ALL her Bank of America credit cards, accounts and loan agreements to another bank. Coal. When Matt and I spoke up about the the climate, economic and reputational risk of continuing to invest in coal-fired power plant and mountaintop removal, Ken really started to get red in the face, but the turning point came however when Matt Wasson from Appalachian Voices commented that Bank of America was becoming the "face of Mountaintop Removal." 86% of Bank of America shareholders were represented by the people in that room, and many of them had clearly never heard about mountaintop removal before so this was a fantastic education for them and for the Board of Directors who were also present. All in all, concerns over coal investments by far dominated the meeting and I'm quite certain that Bank of America got the message.

I got a date with Citi! (or, Inside the Citi AGM)

Becky I’m about to hop on a plane to Charlotte, but I wanted to capture some of the excitement from Citi’s Annual Shareholder Meeting. It was an amazing day – there were over 50 activists outside on the streets making sure that every shareholder that entered the meeting had absolutely NO doubt that Citi is funding coal and why it should stop. The New York crew were amazing – as always, creative and kick-ass every last one. Appalachia’s own Maria Gunnoe and I went inside the meeting on proxies and spoke in support of shareholder resolution #9, calling on Citi to cease financing of coal-fired power plants and mountaintop removal coal mining. Inside, the scene was just about as raucous as on the streets! There must have been 500 shareholders at the meeting – most of whom were NOT happy. Obviously, Citi’s recent financial woes due to the credit crisis have shareholders antsy, and almost every question revolved around why Citi didn’t recognize the risk inherent in subprime loans. Why indeed? We want to know why Citi is heading directly from the credit crisis to the climate crisis, which is rife with financial risk, human risk, cultural risk and environmental risk. Maria stood up and spoke movingly about the hypocrisy of releasing ‘Carbon Principles’ while continuing to fund the biggest proponents of mountaintop removal. Speaking directly to Citi CEO Vikram Pandit and Chairman Sir Win Bischoff, she asked: “Where is the principle in that?” No one had an answer for her. When it was my turn to speak, I reiterated our request to Citi to cease financing coal and climate change, and pointed out that it is the people and lands like those of Appalachia that are most impacted by our continued reliance on coal. These are the real victims of climate change. Then I asked a simple question: Would Vikram Pandit please commit to accompanying me on a flight over Appalachia to witness the effects of mountaintop removal, financed by his bank? He laughed and looked a little uncomfortable. I assured him that I would be a wonderful flying companion. What followed was a slightly awkward silence. Then, to my surprise, Sir Win Bischoff interjected and said: “I can commit that one of us will accompany you on that flight.” And with that, I got a date with Citi. As I left the meeting, several shareholders approached me to say they hoped I would be back next year to report on the flight. My response? You bet I will.

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