As Kuntzman and Rubinstein report:

“Barclays is a London-based bank — one of the world’s biggest — with holdings around the globe, but whose history is inextricably linked to some of mankind’s lowest moments:

Slavery: The bank itself was founded by the Barclay family in 1756 on profits made in the African slave trade.

The company’s senior archivist, Jessie Campbell, defended the bank’s link to slavery in a letter to the London paper, the Guardian, as something that must ‘be understood in the context of the times,’ he wrote. ‘In the mid-18th century, trading in slaves was the norm.’

The Holocaust: Barclays’ French branches froze the accounts of their Jewish customers. After being sued by Hitler’s victims and their descendents, Barclays agreed in 1999 to pay $3.6 million in restitution.

Nazi officials kept the proceeds from Jews’ forced property sales at Barclays, the suit charged.

Apartheid: Under fire from human-rights groups, Barclays finally pulled out of South Africa in 1986. The bank had earned the wrath of activists for doing business with the Pretoria’s apartheid government.

War: Last year, the British government cited Barclays as one of a dozen companies that indirectly fueled the civil war in the Congo — but the government ended up closing the case against Barclays and the other firms without issuing any sanctions.

Three years earlier, the United Nations cited Barclays for being involved in ‘shady networks of business and military figures’ operating in the war-stricken Congo, according to the English newspaper, the Independent. As did the British government, the UN earned the wrath of human-rights activists for never following up with sanctions against the bank.”


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