Golden Veroleum Liberia has strongly refuted allegations contained in a Global Witness (GW’s) report regarding its operations in Liberia.
GVL says it recently met with Global Witness in London to respond to 20 draft assertions submitted to the company for comment ahead of the report publication.
We are highly transparent in all our operations and have repeatedly invited local and international NGOs to work with us. In the past few months a number of prominent national NGOs have begun engagement with GVL, including developing agreements in principle for these NGOs to monitor our community engagement practices”, a release issued by Golden Veroleum Liberia reads.
According to the release, the report also alleges that GVL accelerated its conversion activity during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, but GVL maintains that these allegations are simply wrong, adding, “70% of all land preparation activity in 2014 was undertaken prior to the major outbreak of Ebola in August, and from that point activity was significantly scaled back against our 2014 development plan, in response to the crisis.”
The release further clarifies that all activities that GVL did undertake during this period were done whilst taking necessary Ebola precautions, which included community briefings, providing latex gloves, protective gear, buckets and disinfectant, Ebola prevention posters and other appropriate literature.
“We are proud of the fact that as an early and active member of the Ebola Private Sector Mobilisation Group (EPSMG) and also through our direct activities on the ground none of those who lived in the communities where we operate and none of our 3,400 employees contracted Ebola”.
The release notes that the report also makes assertions of coercion and improper dealings by government officials and possibly by GVL employees, but Golden Veroleum says these assertions are historical in nature and were previously investigated and showed that GVL has not been party to any coercion or improprieties and there is no evidence of such action.
“We believe that our sustainability and operational processes and their implementation meet and in many areas exceed RSPO, Liberian and industry requirements and standards. Yet we know that we can still do better and will continue to make improvements in our operations and processes.”
GVL says its intention to working with communities, RSPO, NGOs and others is appropriate by following core principle of continuous improvement, saying, “We welcome active collaboration on the ground, working with communities, NGOs and partners and appreciate their constructive feedback.”
The release says today, with almost 4,000 employees, GVL is one of the largest employers in Liberia and one of the only employers in the southeast of the country, a region which is particularly deprived compared with the rest of Liberia.
“We remain committed to responsible investment in Liberia and to working constructively and respectfully with our host communities and stakeholders for many years to come”, the release concluded. Press Release