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Daily Telegraph: Concern over oil firms’ aid links with Bill Gates

By Catherine Elsworth
Last Updated: 1:32am GMT 08/01/2007

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is investing in companies that could be causing ailments in the very people it helps to treat in the developing world, according to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times.

The world’s largest philanthropic organisation, established by the Microsoft billionaire and his wife in 2000, pours hundreds of millions of dollars into polio and measles immunisation and research worldwide, including areas such as the Niger Delta.

At the same time, however, the Foundation invests in petroleum giants that operate oil plants in the area such as Eni, an Italian company, the newspaper reported.

Fumes and soot from such plants have been blamed for causing ailments and lowering immunity in local people, many of whom have been vaccinated against polio and measles because of the Gates Foundation.

The Los Angeles Times said the foundation has invested $423 million (£219 million) in Eni and other companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Total of France.

Some local leaders blame oil development for fostering some of the very afflictions the foundation tries to address, the paper reported.

Holes left from oil boring fill with stagnant water, providing ideal breeding grounds for malaria-spreading mosquitoes, while oil spills that clog rivers have been cited as a cause of cholera.

The Gates Foundation gives away at least five per cent of its worth every year and in 2005 granted $1.4 billion.

According to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times, $8.7 billion of Gates Foundation investments was in firms that countered the foundation’s charitable goals or socially concerned philosophy.

This is “the dirty secret” of many large philanthropies, Paul Hawken, director of the Natural Capital Institute, an investment research group, told the Los Angeles Times.

“Foundations donate to groups trying to heal the future,” Mr Hawken said. “But with their investments, they steal from the future.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Gates Foundation did not respond to written questions about its investments in companies that were high polluters or those with poor environmental records.

The Foundation also told The Daily Telegraph that it would not be responding to the allegations. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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