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Australian business leader joins with Vatican to battle slavery

By Jessica Tasman-Jones

Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, the chairman of Australian family business Fortescue Metals Group, has launched a global anti-slavery foundation at the Vatican in Rome.

Forrest said he launched Global Freedom Network after his daughter Grace had volunteered at a Nepalese orphanage, only to find the children were being trafficked to the Middle East to be sex slaves.

The organisation aims to rid all religious faiths of organisations in their supply chain that use slavery. The initiative is supported by Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Egypt.

Forrest, who founded the firm in 2003, also aims to help the G20 to adopt an anti-slavery and trafficking initiative.

It’s not the first time Forrest has made a stand against slavery. His family empire requires all suppliers to sign affidavits confirming they do not use slave labour – something some companies have been unable to commit to.

Last year, Fortescue Mining was second on CampdenFB’s list of Global Challengers, which determines what family firms are the fastest growing in the world. It had revenues of €5.1 billion in 2012 – up 107.5% on 2010.

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