Brazil’s biggest bank — the state-run Banco do Brasil — is being sued for allegedly funding deforestation in the Amazon.
Public prosecutors say the bank lent money to companies that illegally cleared the rainforest and used labour practices bordering on slavery. The smaller state-owned Banco da Amazonia is also being sued.
Brazil says it has drastically reduced the rate of deforestation in the Amazon in recent years.
Prosecutors in the state of Para said they had uncovered 55 loans worth nearly $5m (£3m) that the Banco do Brasil approved to farms that had broken environmental and employment laws. They also said they had uncovered 37 loans worth $11m given to farms with similar violations by the Banco da Amazonia.
The loans violated Brazil’s constitution, environmental laws, banking regulations and international agreements signed by Brazil, the independent prosecutors at the Public Ministry said.
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