Open letter to Corporate Knights regarding Barrick's placement at #4 on "Best 50 of 2013"
Dear Corporate Knights,
I am writing in response to your recent "Best 50 of 2013" listing, where you place Barrick Gold in the position of 4th best corporate citizen. You acknowledged that awarding them this honour would stir controversy, as you acknowledge the company has many accusations placed against it for human rights abuses, and even the Chilean government recently shut down its Pascua Lama project due to "environmental irregularities". Still, referencing "publicly disclosed data points that can be compared across companies", you insist that Barrick is a corporate leader.
Your actions lead me to wonder what kind of due diligence you did to determine the accuracy of these "publicly disclosed data points". Also, where did you get these figures? From the company I presume?
As someone who has researched Barrick for over seven years now, I can assure you that Barrick's self-reporting cannot be taken at face value, and this fact undermines your entire system of corporate evaluation. You don't have to take my word for it. Already this year, there have been several instances of Barrick's self-reports being rejected, including in the case of their Pascua Lama project in Chile.
In fact, just last week, a class action lawsuit was announced
representing the shareholders of Barrick Gold because the company “made false and misleading statements and concealed material information relating to the cost of and time-to-production projections for the company’s Pascua-Lama Project."
Many examples of Barrick’s deceptive practices, acts of intimidation, and cover-ups have been detailed in a report "Debunking Barrick", which the Globe and Mail called "30 pages of footnoted attacks on Barrick for weak environmental practices and human rights abuses around its mines". It seems prudent to review such a report before throwing the integrity of your rating system behind a well-known corporate criminal.
Not only is it incredibly irresponsible, but it is also dangerous to praise a company as a leader in corporate social responsibility, when that same company has a laundry list of very serious abuses. It is also an incredibly flawed system to only consider a narrow range of company-supplied data in making these determinations, especially when the allegations against the company are so well-documented.
It is important to understand that those exposing Barrick's abuses face repression and smear campaigns against them. As someone who has worked directly with impacted-communities over the last 6 years, I take this issue very seriously.
I urge Corporate Knights to reconsider Barrick's listing anywhere within its "Top 50" list. Barrick should be disqualified for human rights abuses, environmental mismanagement, and fraudulent behaviour. This behaviour clearly undermines their claims of transparency and corporate social responsibility.
Thank you in anticipation of your response,