Tag Archives: financing

Enbridge and Indigenous Rights at Citigroup’s Shareholder Meeting

One of the many signs outside Citigroup headquarters during last week’s shareholder meeting.

A proposal brought by several religious orders at last week’s Citigroup annual shareholder meeting asked the company to report on its policies and practices “in respecting internationally-recognized human rights standards for Indigenous Peoples’ rights.” The proposal (page 125) specifically called out Citigroup’s financing of oil and gas operations in the Amazon, which “pose an ‘existential threat’ to Indigenous Peoples” in the region, and it applied equally strong language to the bank’s $5 billion-plus in financing to pipeline company Enbridge:

Indigenous leaders from the Great lakes tribes have called Enbridge’s line 5 pipeline reroute “an act of cultural genocide.” A 2022 ruling found that line 5 was operating illegally on Bad River Band territory since 2013. Michigan Governor Whitmer canceled Enbridge’s certification in 2020, citing “Enbridge’s historic failures and current noncompliance” as jeopardizing the safety of Michigan residents and the environment. Michigan’s twelve federally recognized Tribal Nations requested President Biden to decommission line 5 in 2021, and the pipeline faces ongoing litigation from numerous plaintiffs. The severity of Indigenous opposition is reflected by the Bay Mills Indian Community formally banishing the pipeline from its reservation, noting Enbridge’s deceptive tactics, poor environmental track record, and risk of “catastrophic damage” to Indigenous rights. Companies like Enbridge, financed by Citigroup, consistently fail to meet the international standard of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) with affected tribes.

Here’s audio of the brief discussion of that proposal at the shareholder meeting. Listen closely to Tara Houska present the case for the proposal. What follows is disappointing but no less revealing. Citigroup Chair John C. Dugan tells shareholders the board recommends voting against the proposal; then, after a question about why Citigroup misled shareholders about its financing of Enbridge Lines 3 and 5, Dugan effectively closes the discussion with evasive boilerplate. The board retreats to lawyered statements and specious claims like the one about Enbridge’s “industry-leading engagement policies.” Still, 31.6 percent of Citigroup’s shareholders voted for the proposal — an impressive showing.

P.S. An earlier version of this audio file was not showing up on phones — something to do with the way WordPress converted it, or failed to convert it. Sorry about that. It should work now.