Albanese with Zambian government ministers on behalf of Vedanta in 2014
20th October 2017. On Tuesday the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a fraud case against Rio Tinto and two of its executives Tom Albanese (until recently Vedanta’s CEO) and Guy Elliot for inflating the value of a misguided coal deal with Mozambique in 2011. Rio Tinto was immediately fined £27.4 million by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK for breaching UK listing rules. Albanese and Elliot now face major fines for ‘ill gotten gains’ plus interest, as well as a ban on serving as directors of any public company.
Albanese presided over multiple human rights violations while serving as Rio Tinto CEO, and was finally forced to leave in 2011 following the disastrous $44 billion dollar decision to merge with Alcan in 2007 that had written off $9 billion, followed by the failed Mozambique coal deal (see previous article on this website). Guy Elliot has exercised considerable influence over India’s mineral policy, telling Indian decisions-makers it should include a fast-track clearance procedure, and allow ‘security of tenure’, i.e. grant long-term lease rights to foreign mining companies in a speech at the India-UK Business Leaders’ Forum in June 2006.
Please read the Financial Times article: Rio Tinto charged with fraud in US and fined in UK for more information.
Miriam Rose, Samarendra Das, John McDonnell MP and Richard Solly in the House of Commons
Speakers from Foil Vedanta and London Mining Network yesterday presented evidence in the House of Commons on the criminal behaviour of some London Listed mining companies, and called for better accountability measures and the de-listing of criminal companies. Focusing on contentious UK miner Vedanta Resources, they exposed new evidence of tax evasion, illegal land grabs, displacement, major pollution and water poisoning, as well as the UK’s role in promoting and protecting the company, and called for its immediate investigation and potential de-listing in London.
In a packed meeting hosted by John McDonnell MP in the House of Commons speakers told MPs, journalists, diplomats and members of the public attending that high risk mining companies like ‘the world’s most hated company’ Vedanta Resources are bringing shame on the London Stock Exchange, and demanded better accountability measures and the de-listing of criminal companies. MPs attending were Jeremy Corbyn, Eric Joyce and John McDonnell.
1st August 2013. Foil Vedanta’s report with pictures:
An inflatable monster representing Vedanta with the subsidiaries as snake like heads
Today protesters from Foil Vedanta and other organizations held a loud carnival demonstration at the AGM of controversial FTSE 100 mining company Vedanta at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square London. A parallel demo was held in Johannesburg. Yesterday in Delhi almost a hundred people braved rains to raise their protest at Odisha Bhawan. Meanwhile, the majority of tribal village meetings given legal power by the Supreme Court of India have unanimously voted against Vedanta’s flagship Niyamgiri mine.
Please see the video of the London demo here, video of the Delhi demo here, pictures here, and details of coverage of the demo’s in South Africa, Delhi and London below.
Vedanta’s London AGM was again disrupted today by protesters from Foil Vedanta and other organisations who raised a number of human rights concerns. Chanting and singing was continuous throughout the two hour protest and could be heard inside the AGM. Protesters held placards painted with defiant anti-company quotes from the Dongria Kond tribe in Odisha, India, where the company has been trying to mine illegally for ten years, and has now been stopped. Another group performed street theatre holding a giant inflatable monster with Vedanta Resources painted on it, and snake like heads bearing the names of Vedanta’s subsidiaries. Some Sri Lankan protesters played Parai drums (a Tamil drum of revolution) outside the Mayfair venue. Vedanta subsidiary Cairn India is drilling in the fragile Mannar basin off Sri Lanka. At the peak of the protests a sit in was staged as the Vedanta monster was used to block the road.
1st August, 2pm. The London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, W1K 6JP.
Join us for our major annual demonstration at Vedanta’s AGM.
We will bring the defiant energy of the Dongria Kond tribe to London, as they fight the final stages of their 10 years battle for survival against Vedanta’s planned mega mine.
Parallel demonstrations are already planned in Odisha and Delhi in India on 31st August.
Bring drums, placards, banners and lots of energy!
Please see below for more information and background.
Dongria woman demonstrates how CRPF attacked them (video excerpt)
Foil Vedanta Press Release, Friday 7th June 2013
Reports from the Niyamgiri hills have confirmed that CRPF special forces have been targeting villages who are opposing Vedanta’s proposed mine, threatening them not to do so, and destroying grain stores and items of worship in their homesteads. One incident involved unprovoked firing on a group of women and children bathing in a waterfall at Batudi village. A Dongria woman has been filmed reporting these abuses. Meanwhile in London, a group of UK members of parliament have expressed their concern over the Palli Sabha process, alerting UK authorities to monitor the behaviour of British mining company Vedanta Resources, who are attempting to mine the mountain with Odisha state support.
Dongria woman tells the story of CRPF raids
Interviews with Dongria Kond people taken yesterday evening confirm recent reports that Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been active in the Niyamgiri hills carrying out ‘combing operations’ and threatening villages. They have allegedly set up a base in a cotton market yard in Muniguda (a nearby town) and make frequent trips to the mountain, in particular to Jarpa, Khambeshi and Lacpadar villages(1). The reports, sent by local journalists, claim that CRPF forces have told the tribals not to oppose the mine, asked to see their leaders, spilled their food stores, and taken their traditional weapons and guns which are kept to protect them from elephants. Even NGOs and other service providers – who had gone to Niyamgiri to try to assist in the current gram sahba process which will decide the fate of the mountain vis a vis Vedanta’s proposed mine – are leaving the area afraid for their lives following the harassment, they state.
In a film, now posted on the internet a Dongria woman (who did not want to reveal her name for fear of retribution by the forces) states;
“Few days back we were gathering forest products near our village. At that time so many armed forces arrived and they pointed guns at us and surrounded us. They started asking “where is Lada (the tribal leader)? Where have you hidden the maoists ? Where have you hidden the weapons? Why are you opposing mining?” Some one from the behind yelled – ‘If you resist the mining you will be killed like dogs’.”
Local activist Satya Mahar of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti has now made a statement on the harassment online.
A letter from social activists who reported these abuses to the Human Rights Commission of Odisha is also posted below.
This open letter signed by a number of UK MPs and other public figures expresses concern about the track record of Vedanta and asks UK parliamentarians and ombudsmen to monitor the upcoming decision making on Niyamgiri, and ensure it is fair and adheres to UK and international conventions:
14th May. Open Letter
Dear: Hon. Members of Parliament, Lord Adair Turner – Financial Services Authority and UK Listings Authority, Martin Wheatley – Financial Conduct Authority, UK National Contact Point for the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises.
We are public figures concerned with the activities of British registered company Vedanta Resources and the environmental and social violations the company has been convicted of in India, Zambia and elsewhere. For example, in March Vedanta’s copper plant in Tamil Nadu, India was shut down following a major gas leak which affected thousands of people living near the factory. In particular we are registering our concern about the behaviour of Vedanta with regards to their proposed Niyamgiri mine and existing Lanjigarh refinery in Kalahandi, Odisha.
Indian Supreme Court judges today handed the final decision on Vedanta’s Niyamgiri mine to the Dongria Kond tribe and farmers living around the mountain. Two Gram Sabha’s (village councils) or local self-government within 10km of the proposed mine should announce their decision to the Ministry of Environment and Forests within three months1. The decision will have a major financial and reputational impact on Vedanta and may force them to close their Lanjigarh refinery, costing them billions.
In London, activists from Foil Vedanta and other grassroots groups descended on Vedanta’s nominal Mayfair headquarters later today celebrating what they see as a victory for local self-determination, but calling for thorough independent oversight of the decision making process which they say is wide open to abuse by Vedanta officials and state police. They held a loud noise demonstration, and held a banner stating ‘MoEF: No u-turn on Niyamgiri’ while shouting slogans with a large megaphone. The protesters again called for Vedanta to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for poor corporate governance and human rights crimes.
See the video of today’s demo here, and another short clip here.
More photos on demotix here.
See video of celebrations on Niyamgiri mountain as the verdict was delivered and an interview with Kumuti Majhi here.
According to the Indian newspapers and inside information the final verdict on Vedanta’s Niyamgiri mine will be delivered tomorrow morning (Thurs 18th April)! This is a hugely important day following ten years of struggle by the Dongria Kond who live on the mountain, as well as communities across India and the world.
PLEASE join us at 2pm at Vedanta Headquarters, 16 Berkeley Street, London, W1J 8DZ, Green Park tube, for a louder-than-ever noise demonstration to celebrate or denounce the verdict.
Bring drums, instruments, placards and banners!
Please network this as widely as possible!
In London today activists from Foil Vedanta and other grassroots groups held a silent symbolic demonstration outside the Financial Services Authority headquarters in Canary Wharf, calling for the new Financial Conduct Authority to de-list Vedanta from the London Stock Exchange for poor corporate governance and human rights crimes in Niyamgiri and elsewhere. They handed over documentation and arranged to meet FCA officials in future.
Simultaneously the Indian Supreme Court held another hearing on Vedanta’s planned mega-mine which threatens the Dongria Kond tribe who live in the Niyamgiri hills. If permission to mine is denied Vedanta is likely to close its Lanjigarh refinery due to lack of bauxite costing them billions.
See the video of today’s demonstration at the FCA, and also the new video of our previous demonstration at Vedanta Headquarters.