RBS under pressure over $61m alleged bankrolling of Dakota pipeline parent company

Nathanael Williams

As violence escalates between protesters and police, Scottish bank finds itself embroiled in funding scandal

ROYAL Bank of Scotland (RBS), Scotland’s largest financial institution, has bankrolled the company responsible for the controversial Dakota pipeline to the tune of over $61m, according to the transparency group Food and Water Watch (FWW).

The international spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, Ross Greer, has written to the head of RBS, Ross McEwan, seeking clarification over the bank’s involvement in financing the company behind the controversial Dakota access pipeline in the US.

His letter follows recent tensions between law enforcement and Native American protesters and their allies who maintain that the proposed pipeline which will run through tribal land, and endanger water rights and burial access. According to the protesters, they have also been subjected to extreme armed forced by state and local police forces.

“I would encourage RBS to distance itself as far as possible from the pipeline plans, should it have any role in the financing of this project.” Ross Greer

Greer said: “I’ve written to RBS CEO Ross McEwan to find out what financial involvement it has with the Bakken pipeline. In spite of several US websites suggesting otherwise, I really hope the answer is none.

“The reports of how the authorities are handling the protests is outrageous, with documented incidents of excessive force, unlawful arrests and mistreatment in jail. I would encourage RBS to distance itself as far as possible from the pipeline plans, should it have any role in the financing of this project.”

According to data found on Bloomberg Terminal figures, RBS placed funds into Energy Transfer equity whose parent company Energy Transfer Partners based in Dallas is leading the construction of the Dakota pipeline.

Fires rage in Dakota as tribes and protesters fight for land rights

A total of seventeen financial institutions have loaned Dakota Access LLC $2.5bn to construct the pipeline. Banks have also committed substantial resources to the Energy Transfer Family of companies so it can build out more oil and gas infrastructure.

In February 2015, RBS joined several other banks and holding companies in pledging an existing financial commitment of $61,437,500 with a later “incremental increase” of $4,120,956.17 which adds up to 4.37 per cent of the total raised.

In the document obtained by US Uncut, an RBS representative under the name of Brian Smith acted as an authorised signatory for the credit agreement which saw the amount promised to Energy Transfer equity to fund future construction.        

FWW have stated that since the main ability to build “destructive and reckless” pipelines such as the Dakota projects rests on the availability of credit it is imperative for campaigners and customer to boycott any bank involved. 

RBS vehemently denied having any connection to the Dakota pipeline when speaking to CommonSpace, saying that the relationship is a past one and that issue had been terminated. An RBS spokesperson said: “We’re not funding the Dakota Access Pipeline. RBS has never had a banking relationship with Dakota Access LLC. RBS provided financial support to the parent company of Dakota Access LLC but have since exited the relationship.”

RBS figures show its global connections to oil and gas last year fell 70 per cent compared with 2014, down from £22bn to £6.6bn. The exposure to mining and metals, which includes coal, also fell, from £4.7bn to £2.1bn. However, environmental campaigners such as US Uncut state that millions of pounds have still been invested despite new pledges being pulled.

Picture courtesy of Kirtan Patel

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