Communities in Sinoe and Grand Kru counties where GVL started operations presented series of complaints to the RSPO Complaints Panel between 2012 and 2013. The complaints ranged from allegations on human rights violations, land grabbing, flawed Free Prior Informed Consent processes, and desecration of sacred and burial sites. Following series of verification visits and investigations, RSPO Complaints Panel delivered two separate decisions on the complaints on GVL; the first on September 19, 2015 and the second on February 13, 2018. The RSPO Complaint Panel found GVL to be non-complaint with several elements of the RSPO Principles and Criteria including the company’s failure to implement adequate FPIC processes and procedures, destruction of sacred sites, coercion and intimidation of community members to sign memorandum of understanding, and continued development on disputed land, among others. GVL, however, appealed stating that it had “no merit”. Notwithstanding the Appeals Panel rejection, GVL on July 20, announced its voluntary suspension of its membership from the RSPO on grounds that the company needed to work on its sustainability plans.
The voluntary withdrawal of Golden Veroleum Liberia from the RSPO contravenes the provison contained in Article 15 of the concession agreement with the Government of Liberia and is a demonstration of bad faith.