On November 1st, JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, received a 1.5 billion revolving credit facility by a syndicate of banks led by the Bank of Montreal.
Brazilian based JBS has been linked numerous times to illegal deforestation, land grabbing, social conflicts and slave labour in Brazil, and in particular in the Amazon (see here for an overview of reports on JBS). Although the company signed an agreement in 2009 committing to clean its Amazon supply chain within two years, 13 years later it is still far from achieving that goal. In fact, it has changed to goalposts, postponing it’d deforestation free commitment for the Amazon to 2025, and for its global supply chain to 2035. A number of financial institutions have already divested from JBS over its multiple social and environmental conflicts, as well as its involvement in one of Brazil’s largest corruption scandals, including the Norwegian Pension Fund Global.
However, BMO seems to be jumping into that space. According to Forests & Finance data, BMO is a new financier for JBS. Being a relatively small financier for forests risk commodity companies overall, the bank had only participated in a USD 20 million bond issuance to JBS last year, before making the leap to leading a USD 1.5 billion revolving credit. It did so without first adopting a zero deforestation policy, even though its policy says that “BMO will protect the environment”, a commitment it’s clearly violating by financing one of the largest Amazon destroyers.