The impact of ethics on the profitability of The Co-operative Bank increased to over a third in 2004 according to figures released.
The annual customer value analysis shows in 2004 34 per cent of the bank's £ 132m profits can be attributed to the bank's ethical and sustainability policies, compared with 29 per cent in 2003.
The analysis also showed the value of the business the bank lost due to ethical and ecological reasons was £ 8.7m at the end of 2004, compared with £ 6.9m the previous year.
Refusing to provide banking services to companies on ecological grounds cost the bank £ 3,812,500; whilst the cost of turning away business for animal welfare reasons was £ 1,290,500; declining to do business associated with poor human rights and labour practices lost it £ 847,000 and rebuffing organisations involved in the production of problematic chemicals cost £ 688,000.
The bank puts the increase in the number of companies turned down to the widening of the scope of background checks made on business customers applying for an account.
Director of Corporate Affairs for Co-operative Financial Services Simon Williams said: "Our customers expect us to rigorously police our ethical stance and so we not only look into the activities of a would-be customer but also the supply chains in which they are involved.
"For instance, we investigate a company to see if it is concerned directly in the extraction or production of fossil fuels, and also whether they supply products and services of strategic importance to such areas.
"Despite this increased scrutiny, the Bank's corporate business goes from strength to strength with a growing number of business customers coming to the bank because of our ethical positioning.
"When we launched our ethical stance back in 1992 its initial appeal was very much to individual customers who wanted to know what happened to their money whilst it was in the bank. Now, 13 years on, 36 per cent of personal customers and a quarter of the Bank's corporate customers join us precisely because we are prepared to turn away certain sorts of business."
• To highlight the ethics in CFS, the Co-operative Insurance Society opposed on ethical grounds the re-election of Lee Raymond as Chief Executive at the Exxon Mobil AGM.
CIS, which holds $25m worth of Exxon Mobil shares, will not support Raymond's re-election because of the company's attempts to talk down the links between man-made carbon dioxide emissions and climate change and the pressing need for drastic action. CIS also opposes Raymond's double role as chief executive and chairman.