Belgian banks KBC and Degroof Petercam reportedly invested about $61 million in the nuclear weapons sector, according to the 2018 “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” report by the pacifist organization “PAX”. According to PAX, which is a member of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Arms (ICAN)- winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize -, the KBC bank insurer lent $45 million to the UK-based Serco company, which is active in the maintenance of atomic weapons.
Degroof Petercam reportedly invested $16 million in the US company Fluor, which manages nuclear weapons stockpiles in the USA.
Three banks that are not, or no longer, strictly Belgian but are present in Belgium invested a total of over US$16 billion in nuclear arms. They are BNP Paribas, $8.6 billion; ING, US$895 million and Deutsche Bank $6.6 billion.
The Belgian Coalition against Nuclear Weapons and FairFin have denounced these investments, demanding that the banks stop financing atomic weapons and align their investment policy with the prescriptions of the new UN treaty banning nuclear arms. They also recall that the State of Belgium is the principal shareholder in the French group BNP Paris, of which BNP Paribas Fortis is a subsidiary.
BNP Paribas has stressed, however, that it has strengthened its policy on financing and investing in the defence sector, excluding investment in controversial weapons like anti-personnel mines, cluster-munition weapons and nuclear weapons. “The only exceptions are businesses involved in NATO’s nuclear programme within the framework of the United Nations non-proliferation treaty,” it said.
BNP Paribas further indicated that by the end of last year, it had excluded142 companies from its financing and investment and placed 37 others on a watch list. It said it planned to meet soon with ICAN to discuss this issue.
The ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’ report states that a total of US$525 billion (422 billion euros) was made available last year to companies involved in nuclear arms by 329 financial institutions in 24 countries.