U.S. Bancorp (USB) has landed in the crosshairs of an animal-rights group.
Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty said Monday that a U.S. Bancorp unit is a lender to Huntingdon Life Sciences, a U.K.-based research facility that helps makers of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, cosmetics and other products assess the safety of their wares.
A $120-million loan used to finance a transaction in 2009 that put the lab under private ownership "is now with" U.S. Bank, according to SHAC, which accuses Huntingdon of "cruel, unscientific and anarchic methods of vivisection."
"Any company or individual that continues to assist [Huntingdon] with any loans or financial support of any kind will be targeted globally by our campaign until they too cease all involvement like many companies before them," the group said in a press release. SHAC added that other financial institutions have severed ties to Huntingdon because of the company's practices.
SHAC has misconstrued the relationship between the bank and the tester, U.S. Bancorp says.
"U.S. Bank is not a lender to Huntingdon Life Sciences," spokeswoman Teri Charest said in an email. "We are the trustee for a secured bond issued by a related company. "
"Our role as trustee is strictly administrative, facilitating payments to the bond holders," Charest added.
The accusations by SHAC represent the latest step in a roughly 16-year campaign by animal rights activists to shutter Huntingdon, which also has a research facility in Princeton, N.J.
According to SHAC, the lab kills 500 animals daily while testing ingredients for products that range from cleaning products and medicinal mushrooms to bacteria used to ferment food.
Neither Huntingdon nor the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates testing of varied products, responded to a request for comment.
Over the years, organizers of the anti-Huntingdon campaign have been criticized for their tactics, which have included harassing workers at both Huntingdon and companies that do business with it. Seven members of the group were convicted by a British court in 2009 of conspiring to blackmail companies that were linked to Huntingdon, according to news reports.