17 Aug 2012

Westpac denies role in illegal Solomons logging

12:36 pm on 17 August 2012

The Westpac Bank says claims by Australia's Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon that it is financing illegal logging in Solomon Islands are false.

Its manager of Pacific Banking, Greg Pawson, says to his knowledge the Bank has no involvement in a new development on Vella Lavella.

Ms Rhiannon says Westpac will struggle to end links with rapacious Solomons' logging practices, but Mr Pawson says the Bank aims to sever its involvement in the sector by the end of next year.

He says Westpac only deals with legitimate clients but it is aware of the controversy surrounding logging in the Solomons and this is why it began scaling back its involvement three years ago.

"And that is in fact what we are doing. But we are doing that in a socially responsive way. To completely exit from that industry in a short period of time would place an immense amount of pressure on those landowners and villagers that are reliant on the income from that industry sector."