Swiss National Bank denies entry to Indigenous Mapuche delegate exposing harm caused by its fracking investments

April 26, 2024

The bank blocked the Mapuche leader from entering its Annual General Meeting.

[PHOTOS of protests outside of the Swiss National Bank Annual General Meeting on the 26 April 2024]

April 26, 2024, Bern, SwitzerlandThis morning at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) Indigenous Mapuche leader, Orlando Carriqueo, and Argentinian human rights lawyer, Mariana Katz, were denied entrance. 

Both delegates were given proxy and had an access card in their name but the SNB refused them access because they couldn't provide evidence of membership in the shareholding organisation, citing a discretionary rule (Art. 37 of the National Bank Act). The SNB has historically arbitrarily enforced this rule and even today, individuals with similar statuses were granted entry.

Indigenous Mapuche leader, Orlando Carriqueo, said: “The Vaca-Muerta project is exposing my Mapuche community to earthquakes and fatal cancers, respiratory diseases and severe skin rashes. This is all thanks to the money the Swiss National Bank gives to companies that extract oil and gas there. Refusing my entrance to today's meeting is a clear denial of democracy."

Asti Roesle, Financial Centre Manager at Climate Alliance, added “Even if rules are on their side, it is embarrassing and shameful that the Swiss National Bank doesn't let those who are impacted by their investments, into the room. The delegates of Argentina deserve to address their concerns to shareholders.” 

Daphne Cronin, campaigner at Ekō, affirmed: "Today's actions underscore the ambiguity of the SNB's rules and confirm activists' warnings: the SNB would rather silence resistance than face the harm it causes to people and planet and change its investment policy. Over 69,000 people signed a petition supporting the end of fracking investments by the bank. Every attempt to suppress people's voices only strengthens our resolve to fight for our future and support impacted indigenous communities."  

Mapuche leader, Orlando Carriqueo, came to Switzerland from Argentina to expose the bank’s investments in fracking companies, which extract oil and gas in Vaca Muerta rock formation. As of the end of 2022, SNB invests over $9 billion in 69 companies that produce oil and gas using fracking or transport oil and gas produced using fracking. 

The ingenious intimidation attempts didn't work, and the protest outside the AGM continued. Led by Climate Alliance, BreakFree Collective Switzerland, Ekō and Campax, a huge banner was placed between two prop drilling rigs with the message “SNB: Stop fracking investments”. Activists also held a banner “No financial stability without a stable climate”. The group amplified the Mapuche's demand for the bank to end fracking investments, and called on the SNB to incorporate climate and environmental risks into its monetary policy.

This demand is aligned with SNB's investment guidelines, which prohibits investment in companies that "seriously violate fundamental human rights" or "systematically cause severe environmental damage (...)". However, the SNB's portfolio includes ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and Total, all operating fracking plants in Vaca Muerta, Argentina and other areas. 

The extraction plants in Vaca Muerta regularly cause earthquakes, contaminate groundwater and soil and lead to serious health problems for the local population. The groups are calling for the SNB to apply its own policy, and exclude fracking and other fossil fuel companies from its foreign exchange portfolio.

This demand is backed by the majority of Swiss cantons, which together form the SNB's largest group of shareholders and represent 69% of the Swiss population. Activists say the SNB is therefore acting against the values of the Swiss people and the company shareholders. A global petition by the corporate accountability group Ekō, which gathered 69,000 signatures, also echoes this demand. 

In the run-up to the AGM, around 80 SNB shareholders submitted eight motions to the Bank Council, which oversees and monitors the conduct of business by the SNB, in favour of greater transparency, supervisory responsibility and governance. Despite being rejected, shareholders have reinforced the demands during the Annual General Meeting, and appealed to ensure SNB includes enforceable climate and environmental risks in its monetary policy.


Ekō is a global movement of consumers, investors, and workers all around the world, united together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and to forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy.