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Rainforest group calls Citibank ‘destructive’

By Mabel M. Tampinco Special to the Daily Planet
Thursday October 19, 2000

Alleging that Citibank is “the world’s most destructive bank,” members of the Rainforest Action Network led a protest outside the bank’s Shattuck Avenue branch Tuesday. 

Carrying props that included a papier-mâché pig with the words “Spank the Bank” written on it, some 30 protesters urged passers-by to boycott the bank. 

Similar demonstrations were being held simultaneously in San Francisco and 50 other cities across the country. Protesters challenged the bank’s practice of lending money to businesses, such as logging companies, which they claim hurts the environment. 

A Citibank spokesperson did not return calls for comment. However, the website of the bank’s parent company, Citigroup, shows that the financial institution has an Environmental Affairs Unit. According to the website, the company has an Environmental Policy Review Committee, which evaluates environmental and human rights issues that may affect its business, and then takes appropriate action. 

“Citigroup believes that working to conserve and enhance the environment is good business practice,” the website said. 

Ilyse Hogue, a member of Rainforest Action, said Citibank is funding “environmentally and socially destructive” projects all over the world. “From South Africa to south Bronx, they’re driving people out of their homes and destroying the life support systems that we depend upon,” she said. 

Hogue said that Citibank should be held accountable for what its borrowers do with the bank’s money.  

“Citibank is providing the money that goes to these logging companies that go into the rainforest,” said Hogue. “Without this capital, these companies would not be able to go in and destroy the forests that we need so desperately. And not only are they funding it, but they’re profiting from it.” 

Some 25 protesters in San Francisco marched at noon through the city’s financial district and urged a boycott among the lunch crowd. Office workers watched with amusement as the group performed a mock funeral for the planet Earth.  

Citibank employees watched through glass windows as the group, wearing green dollar bill masks, stopped in front of the branches on Battery and Sacramento streets.