CAROLINE LUCAS urged the Tory government yesterday to halt the sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to tax-ducking Macquarie or face killing it off.
The Green Party co-leader raised the issue in the Commons, speaking out against the privatisation deal worth an estimated £2 billion with Macquarie Group Ltd, the government’s preferred bidder.
The Australian bank, nicknamed the “Vampire Kangaroo,” has a history of buying up British companies, then “running down their capital base and loading the companies with large debts” while extracting dividends, a recent report by climate experts E3G said.
In 2006 the firm acquired Thames Water for £8bn and subsidiary Midland Expressway owns the M6 motorway in the west Midlands.
In 2014, the group was fined £250,000 for polluting the Chase Brook in Newbury with raw sewage. The court took into account that Thames Water’s profit for the year was £346.7 million.
In the same year leaked documents revealed that the group was found to be employing legal loopholes to reduce its tax bills.
Ms Lucas is calling for the sale plans to be halted immediately, saying that the GIB could be “fatally undermined as an enduring institution” if the privatisation goes ahead. The GIB is publicly owned since it was founded in 2012, having been set up with £3.8bn of government money.
“It is the world’s first bank to be dedicated to “greening the economy.” Projects funded by the GIB include offshore wind farms and other low-carbon efforts.
“The GIB has been widely recognised as a true success story,” said Ms Lucas. “And yet this preferred bidder, Macquarie, not only has a dismal and terrible environmental record, it also has an appalling track record of asset-stripping.”
Recent changes to the bank’s corporate structure suggest there are plans “to hollow out the GIB,” she said.
Greenpeace shares her fears. The charity’s policy director Doug Parr said: “It will provide income for the overseas owners, but the prospect of it driving useful investment into UK economy looks far from certain.”
The sale of the GIB was instigated by former chancellor George Osborne in 2015. The deal is due to be signed at the end of the month.