EBRD pushes on with Azerbaijan gas loan after transparency rift

EBRD pushes on with Azerbaijan gas loan after transparency rift

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is pushing ahead with plans to lend $500 million to Azerbaijan’s Southern Gas Corridor project after the nation was suspended from an international oil-wealth transparency watchdog, Bloomberg reports.

The development bank is “progressing” its financing to the $40 billion pipeline project with a final board decision expected by the end of the year, Suma Chakrabarti, the EBRD’s president, said in an interview in London.

Azerbaijan withdrew from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in March after the organization suspended it following criticism from human rights groups over the nation’s crackdown on civic freedoms. Executives at the EBRD, whose mandate includes promoting democracy, have said that the status of Azerbaijan’s EITI membership would be an important factor in its decision to lend.

“What’s happened on the EITI is very, very unfortunate,” Chakrabarti said. He was critical of the watchdog’s decision, saying that “quite a lot of people” were “worried about some of the criteria that are now being used in EITI.”

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