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To: The Governing Board of the SNB

SNB respect affected communities and your own rules!

On Friday 26 April 2024, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the presence of the shareholders or delegates of shareholder organizations who had come to attend. All but two. Argentine lawyer Mariana Katz and Orlando Carriqueo, Werken (messenger) of the Mapuche nation, although duly registered, were specifically barred from entering.

They are representatives of affected communities in Argentina and Pwelmapu and defenders of human and environmental rights. Mariana and Orlando had come to draw the attention of the assembly to the consequences of the SNB's investments in companies such as Exxon, Chevron and TotalEnergies, exploiting shale gas and oil by fracking in Argentina (Vaca Muerta*). The public bank holds several billion USD worth of shares in these companies practicing fracking in this region, a particularly polluting process rejected by the fourteen cantons that have decided on the subject.

Apparently, the SNB didn't want the general assembly to hear the voices of the directly affected people and blocked them at the entrance. It claims only committee members can represent organizations at the AGM. However, this rule was not applied to other organization members, this year, or the years before. This behavior is discriminatory and intolerable, and follows upon criticism by the SNB Observatory for shortcomings in its governance.

We strongly condemn that the SNB refuses participation and 3 Minutes speaking time to a lawyer who is a member of an organization founded by a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and to one of the spokespersons for an indigenous nation whose territory is being ravaged by companies in which the SNB is a shareholder.

We demand the Swiss National Bank to not discriminate against the voices of directly affected people during their AGM, and to stop their investments in fracking projects in Argentina such as Vaca Muerta.

Why is this important?

SNB must stop arbitrary exclusion of criticism of it’s policies.

The SNB must respect its own investment guidelines, which bar investment in companies that systematically commit serious environmental damages and massively violate fundamental human rights. This is contradictory with it’s support for companies involved in the large-scale exploitation of shale gas and oil.

We call on the SNB to exclude holdings in companies that cause massive damage to nature and the rights of local communities, and in particular oil companies practicing fracking.

*Vaca Muerta is an oil and gas deposit the size of Belgium. Over the past 10 years, its exploitation by fracking, carried out by more than twenty different companies, has already caused more than 400 earthquakes in areas which never had them before. The chemicals used in the process contaminate the air, water and soil, afflicting local populations, flora and fauna. Companies themselves admitted more than 3,368 environmental incidents between 2015 and 2018, and the government counted more than 2,000 in 2021.

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Updates

2024-05-15 18:50:42 +0200

50 signatures reached

2024-05-03 17:36:47 +0200

25 signatures reached

2024-05-03 11:26:53 +0200

10 signatures reached