Connecticut GOP nominee, former bank CFO, brags about assets tied to human rights abuses


Bob Stefanowski, Republican candidate for governor of Connecticut, has bragged about his former role at financial giant UBS, but two reports from a watchdog group found his bank was managing human rights assets. man and environmental damage while he played a central role. role there.

Stefanowski, who served as UBS’s chief financial officer between 2011 and 2014, makes little mention of his time at the Swiss-based investment bank on his current website. But his previous failed gubernatorial campaign handed out mailers bragging that he “managed $500 billion in assets” while he was in the business. Two reports from Germany-based non-profit watchdog group Facing Finance found that some assets Stefanowski managed were linked to companies “in disregard of the environment and human rights”.

The watchdog group found in 2013 that “UBS continues to fund controversial companies.” This report noted the company’s “financial ties” to Nestlé, which had “several instances of child labor” in its cocoa supply chain, and to “other companies with human rights records.” ‘man are tainted’. the report 2014 by Facing Finance found that despite the company’s new environmental and human rights policies, the bank “has been repeatedly accused of being involved in investments that violate human rights and that “UBS’s investment portfolio contains other companies associated with human rights abuses.”

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Stefanowski, who was also an executive at General Electric and a payday lender Global DFCfrequently touts his business experience during the election campaign, where he sought to get started as a financial leader and “turnaround expert”. Stefanowski, who committed to spending $10 million of his own campaign money, lost to Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont by just three points in 2018 and the Republican Governors Association has targeted the Connecticut race as a best pickup opportunity in 2022.

Reports from the watchdog group also show that Stefanowski’s business career included managing investments “associated with murders, forced evictions, violent protests and severe environmental pollution.”

UBS provided loans and underwriting services to mining companies Glencore and Barrick Gold, which continued for face allegations brutal human rights abuses years later, according to the 2014 report. The company’s investment portfolio also included companies accused of “human rights abuses and controversial business practices”.

According to Finding Finance, UBS’s investment scheme shows that “the bank’s business operations lack a definition of binding environmental, social and governance (ESG) assessment criteria”. Although UBS has published an “environmental and social risk framework” which marks “an important step towards improving transparency”, the report continues, it has yet “to define minimum standards for ESG risks and to publish internal sector guidelines for risk in assessments of controversial sectors”. .”

The group’s 2013 report, which focused on the financial ties of companies facing repeated allegations of human rights abuses, found that UBS continued to “fund controversial companies”.

UBS “has financial ties to 24 of the 26 companies highlighted in this report,” the group said, describing the companies mentioned as controversial “due to their disregard for the environment and human rights.”

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The report noted that UBS had “more financial ties to Nestlé than any other company” it examined, and cited several cases of child labor violations in Nestlé’s supply chain. UBS also had financial ties to “other companies with blemished human rights records”, including mining companies AngloGold, Ashanti, Barrick Gold, Jindal and Vale.

UBS in 2013 managed or owned an investment worth around $73 million in Barrick Gold, which has been linked to murders, beatings and gang rapes, as well as dangerous environmental pollution, according to human rights groups. While UBS has continued to work with the company, at least 10 other financial institutions have excluded Barrick Gold from their investment portfolios “due to the company’s long history of security, environmental and and human rights,” according to Facing Finance.

UBS also had hundreds of millions of financial ties to Anglo American, including $151 million in loans, $242 million in stocks and bonds underwritten, and $48.5 million in stocks and bonds managed. The mining company faced international protests in 2013 after being accused to endanger the health of 13,000 people who lived or worked near its mine in Colombia. Miners who worked for Anglo American claimed it had destroyed more than 12,000 hectares of rainforest, displaced five nearby villages and moved rivers to expand its coal mining operations. Many villages were home to the Wayuu people, The Guardian reported at the time, an indigenous group who lived in the region long before the Spanish conquest, as well as people of African descent who had fled slavery on the Colombian coast. Company security forces had also been accused of firing rubber bullets at workers at a mine in South Africa, injuring nine workers, according to Facing Finance.

UBS also provided $53 million in loans to AngloGold Ashanti, another mining company accused “of using highly toxic chemicals, polluting water sources, intensifying deforestation and evicting local people from their land,” according to Facing Finance. Local the news said at the time that Tanzanian farmers had been displaced by one of the company’s gold mines, one of the largest in the country, without any compensation and forced to ‘live like refugees’ in camps resembling those of war-torn Darfur.

Stefanowski’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

“Bob Stefanowski was either too ignorant and misinformed to know that the money he controlled was going to human rights abuses, or he just didn’t care,” spokeswoman Alexandra De Luca said. of the Democratic PAC American Bridge 21st Century, in a statement. in Salon. “The latter seems more likely, but either way, it’s clear he’s not fit to lead Connecticut.”

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