And the ‘shame award’ goes to…food speculator Barclays

© Jess Hurd/World Development Movement

It’s not every day you get to deliver a ‘shame award’ to a bank, unless of course you campaign with the World Development Movement.

Today, Barclays finally accepted their Public Eye ‘shame award’ after winning it earlier this year in Switzerland for the company’s role in speculating on food prices. Over 88,000 people are thought to have voted for the worst company of the year.

Surprisingly, Barclays CEO Bob Diamond wasn’t at the ceremony to pick the award up, and not wanting to keep it from its rightful owners WDM set out for Barclays HQ in London’s Canary Wharf.

Suited and booted for the special occasion (pictured above and below) WDM found themselves not presenting the award to Bob Diamond himself, but rather to a young man instead. Maybe Mr Diamond didn’t have enough time to prepare his speech?

The man below doesn’t look particularly pleased with receiving the award, after being informed that the company he works for is responsible for fuelling global poverty all in the name of economic profit. In 2011, the World Development Movement estimates that Barclays made up to £189 million from speculating on food prices.

“Barclays is making millions by speculating on food, but speculation is driving prices up, squeezing household budgets here in the UK and pushing millions into hunger and poverty worldwide,” said Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement. “Not a penny of this speculative money is invested in improving agriculture, and it benefits no-one except a few wealthy investment bankers.”

© Jess Hurd/World Development Movement

As the biggest UK player in commodity markets, and claiming to be in the global top three, huge amounts of speculative money in food markets is increasing the cost of food at an alarming rate.

The result of which sees banks giving bankers big bonuses due to the risky nature of food speculation while the world’s poorest people suffer malnutrition and poverty because of an increase on staple foods prices.

Bob Diamond, who earns more than the combined income of 62,500 of the world’s poorest people, is reported to have responded to the Occupy movement by telling the BBC in November that banks must be ‘better citizens.’ Currently in the spotlight because of his £17.7 million pay package he should take heed of his own advice by stopping speculation on food.

Maybe this award, which will no doubt take pride place in his office for all to see, will make him realise just how much of an impact he and other banks are creating when it comes to a person living or dying.

“Food is a basic human right, not just an asset class,” said Doane. “We need tough controls to prevent banks like Barclays pushing its price beyond the reach of millions of people.”


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