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Super Fund caught investing in tobacco

11 August 2011

Super Fund caught investing in tobacco

The Green Party has caught the New Zealand Superannuation Fund investing in tobacco, failing once again to live up to their own self-imposed standards as a responsible investor.

A parliamentary written question today revealed that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund holds 80,000 shares in Shanghai Industrial Holdings Ltd — a company involved in the manufacture of tobacco — despite a promise from the Fund to divest from tobacco-related industries in 2007.

“The Super Fund directors have acknowledged their oversight, but their long record of complacency towards ethical investment makes it no surprise that they have been caught investing in tobacco,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

“The Fund directors have been caught out previously for unethical investment behaviour after it was revealed they were profiting from the whaling industry and the cluster munitions industry.

“This is not a professional way to manage a $19 billion investment fund and risks serious damage to our reputation as a responsible member of the world community.

“I hope the directors will now reconsider their position of continuing to invest in and profit from the nuclear weapons industry.”

The Superfund currently has a $2.1 million investment in Larsen & Toubro, India’s largest defence engineering company, involved in the manufacture of a fleet of nuclear-armed submarines.

“Our Super Fund should be nuclear free,” said Dr Norman.

The decision to divest from tobacco created a strong precedent. Tobacco is not an illegal product, but the Super Fund directors ruled in 2007 that investment in this sector was inconsistent with our responsible investment standards. Their decision was based on ‘product safety issues’ and New Zealand's commitment to specific international conventions, namely the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“We are a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and I suspect there are obvious ‘product safety issues’ with nuclear weapons. The bottom line is, we should have nothing to do with investing in this immoral industry,” Dr Norman said.

ENDS

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