Communities of the four river basins affected by oil extraction activities in Block 192 have filed a formal complaint to the Dutch National Point of Contact of the OECD against the Dutch-based company Pluspetrol. They claim that, despite repeated requests and dialogue with the Peruvian state and the company itself, no steps have been taken to remedy the severe environmental damage caused by oil activities in the area. According to OEFA, Pluspetrol should take responsibility of 1199 contaminated sites.
“The situation in the four basins [of Pastaza, Tigre, Marañón and Corrientes] is very complicated. There are no environmental remedies in place in spite of prolonged dialogue with the state” said Aurelio Chino, president of the Federación Indígena Quechua de Pastaza. He travelled to Amsterdam to present the complaint on 11 March. He hopes that the OECD will accept the submission, investigate it and make the necessary recommendations to the company in line with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
The complaint is also supported by the four federations (Feconacor, Acodecospat and Opikafpe). Together, they represent more than 100 indigenous communities from the region.
The complaint is emblematic. It argues that Pluspetrol is also guilty of tax evasion, arguing that it has taken advantage of the complexity of the tax system when there are two or more jurisdictions involved. According to a study carried out by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), the company has used its status in the Netherlands and the Cayman Islands to avoid paying taxes in Peru. Joseph Wilde, specialist on corporate social responsibility from SOMO, argues that for this reason and the company’s failure to take responsibility for damages to the environment and the health and livelihoods of the communities, it is in breach of the OECD guidelines.
The communities will have to wait three months to see if the National Point of Contact will accept the complaint. If it does, it will have a year to study the allegations in detail and speak to all the parties involved. If no agreement is reached, the OECD can then publish its recommendations to the company.