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The case dates back to 2012, when the Cameroonian financial institution Afriland First Bank stopped financing TRC Cameroon after the financed goods were seized at the port of Amsterdam by the holding company of TRC, the REEF group,. But how was this possible as Afriland First Bank had agreed with Rabobank in the Netherlands to assist TRC in its recovery plan to continue its operations. Indeed, Rabobank had signed an exchange of services agreement with Afriland First Bank in which the Cameroonian bank agreed to finance TRC's activities in Cameroon and to save it from almost certain bankruptcy, because the initial financing of 6 million euros from the Pan-African Investment Fund for TRC had been withheld from Rabobank's accounts under the pretext that TRC was a subsidiary of Reef Group. Hence, Rabobank has tricked its partners by breaking any validated agreement.

The Rabobank and the REEF brothers

The REEF brothers, by joined forces with Rabobank ended up being ejected from their own company only 9 months after the beginning of their collaboration.

The relation between Rabobank and REEF Group led, to the investments from the pan-African investment fund to finance TRC's expansion project in Cameroon for an amount of EUR six million.

Just one year before Rabobank acquired Reef Hout, overwhelming their Dutch colleagues of the ABN AMRO with an credit line of more than € 30 million. For further expansion the assistance of the Pan African Invest fund had been asked, precisely for the construction of a new plywood factory in Cameroon. The future was bright for all people involved, and certainly for the more than 1.300 employee’s working at the FSC certified Wood Company.

However, nobody could imagine the hidden agenda of the Rabobank ! Having financed the Reef Company with more than € 30 million, only 9 month hereafter, it was discovered that not any rule of ‘duty of care’ had been respected. The bank started now their recovery procedures with hidden agenda’s.

First of all: the Reef brothers, those who succeeded to have a FSC certification on their 300.000 ha concession nearby Douala, had been sacked from their management function through pression of the Rabobank as they stated: lack of capacities. How the world is it possible, considering the curriculeum of the brothers. Was the bank afraid for any accession of not respecting the care of duties?

Secondly: Rabobank invited the Pan African Investment Fund for the support of the construction of the Plywood factory in Cameroon. Six million euro’s! As the holding company of both, Reef Hout and TRC was established in the Netherlands, Rabobank considered this holding company as a natural hub for receiving this amount, stating that they knew that the Pan African Fund could invest only in African activities of the holding. So naturally, the holding should transfer the 6 million to Cameroon. However, instead of this transfer, the Rabobank used the entire sum to diminish the outstanding of the Dutch company ‘Reef’.

Thirdly: Rabobank forced the Reef-company to look after additional, Cameroonian finance facilities for the sawn wood, coming from the sister-company TRC. It was a new strategy, while so far Rabobank financed this wood. Finally TRC found Afriland ready to pre-finance this wood under the condition that during this finance and transport, Afriland became owner of the wood, secured by transport documents (Bill of Lading) that only could be handed over to Reef when thy paid the invoice. All, according to a contractual service between Afriland and Rabobank.

What happened? Reef, normally paying the invoices directly after they received these, didn’t pay for a while and waited until 8 transports arrived at the Amsterdam port. At that moment they seized the wood, claiming that TRC was not paying some bills. At the same time they went to the Rabobank and claimed the related Bills of Lading which documents they needed at the Amsterdam Port for the custom clearance. Rabobank, knowing that both, wood and documents belonged to Afriland, handed over, failing to contact their partner Afriland, these files giving the executor the opportunity to sell the total value of € 1.3 million for only € 200.00,-..

Fourth: Rabobank facilitated this buyer of the wood with credit for this transaction under the condition that he should pay off the outstanding of the Reef Company with, among others, the enormous profit that this buyer could make through the unlawful acquisition of the wood.

Fifth: The consequences of these actions are dramatic.

What about the 1,300 Cameroonian employees who do not have access to decent health conditions? What about the thousands of children who no longer go to school because of a group of decision-makers sitting in their offices who believe that some lives are better than others?

Is the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement exclusively active on the American continent? Do Africans living in Europe seem to ignore the denunciations of injustice experienced by their fellow citizens on the continent? How can we explain that some European companies such as Rabobank go to so much trouble to maintain African populations in a misery meticulously programmed for so many years?

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