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"Despite corporate policies, Santander made available €3.59bn in the weapons industry since 2015."

The Impaakt Team

8 min Read Time | April 16th 2021

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Written by: Jennifer Tapia Boada

Company: Banco Santander
SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Feedback from the reviewing team:

"This article demonstrates how different a business's practices can be compared to their promises and policies. Banco Santander do not adhere to their own policies when financing nuclear weapons. Another powerful analysis."

Read the full impact analysis below and ensure you log-in or sign-up to make your ratings about the impact the topic in this analysis has on the environment and society.

“Despite corporate policies, Santander made available €3.59bn in the weapons industry since 2015”

Armed conflicts have intensified in the last 30 years, having an impact beyond battle casualties, such as forced migration, infrastructure destruction, and a humanitarian cost of EUR19.9bn, targeting 93M people in need1;p4. Since 2012, 29% of global arms imports went to the Middle East, the heart of the world’s armed-conflict2.

The human rights Banco Santander (BS) policy commits to respect human rights and prevent any harm caused by its business3;p3. However, by 2019, BS was one of the 10 European Banks with the highest investments in 11 global defence companies engaged in developing autonomous weapons and controversial arms trade with countries in conflict4;p4 and repressive regimes in the MENA region4;p16.
Since 2015-2018, the 10 banks provided €24.2bn in finance and held €9.9bn in investments4;p4. BS had financial relations with 8/11 of the identified firms4;p70, providing almost €1.64bn in loans4;p70, and €97.65M in investments4;p7. The eight firms linked to BS4;p70 traded a total of 83,374 weapon systems from 2015-20184;p5.

Banco Santander is also part of the 325 financial institutions that provided €634.2bn in financing the top 18 nuclear weapons producers from 2017-20195;p6. BS made available €1.86bn to 7/18 of the top producers5;p84-85. This is despite its 2018 Defence Sector Policy, which states Banco Santander will not finance nuclear weapons6;p4.

Since 2012, Banco Santander was criticised for incoherence between its policies and practice7, as BS’s financial link with arm-makers and traders is not recent. In 2012, BS was ranked the second-largest investor among 21 Spanish Banks8;p24. Since 2007, BS had poured €1.02bn or 32% of the total value of the Spanish arm-funding8;p24.

Banco Santander contributed €3.59bn in the weapons industry since 2015, and at least €4.61bn since 2007. Banco Santander should effectively implement its human rights policy to avoid harm caused by its operations, extend its defence policy to controversial weapons used for armed conflict, and divest from sectors that massively impair human rights.


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