June 30, 2009
DiNapoli Divests Stock from Iran, Sudan-Linked Companies
Comptroller Protects Fund from Risks Tied to Genocide and Terrorism
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced he is divesting $86.2 million in New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) investments from nine companies doing business in Iran and Sudan. The DiNapoli divestment action follows two years of extensive research and evaluation under risk mitigation programs focused on Iran and Sudan. The action also freezes Fund holdings in seven other companies.
“Iran is supporting terrorism,” DiNapoli said. “It’s trying to become a nuclear power and its president has made public statements that amount to an incitement to commit genocide by calling for the destruction of Israel. Over the past month, we’ve seen just how brutal this regime can be, even toward its own citizens.
“The genocide in Sudan challenges us as citizens of the world. We can neither be blind to this callous destruction of human life nor silent in its face. At some point we have to ask, can we afford to risk pension fund investments in nations led by these kinds of regimes?
“My first responsibility as the Fund’s sole trustee is to fulfill my fiduciary duty. We’ve done our due diligence on these investments. These companies failed to meet even the minimum requirements of the risk mitigation programs we initiated two years ago. I have directed our external equity managers to liquidate our positions in these nine companies. Those managers will reallocate these assets to responsible investments that are economically indistinguishable.”
DiNapoli initiated a risk mitigation program for investments in companies doing business in Sudan in June 2007. The three-phase analysis of companies doing business in Iran began in November 2007. The first phase identified companies the Fund invested in that had business operations in Iran and Sudan. The second phase involved requesting complete descriptions and histories of the companies’ business activities in Iran and Sudan; receiving explanations about how these activities are consistent with a sound and prudent long-term investment strategy; and reporting steps taken to mitigate investment risks posed by doing business in Iran and Sudan.
Under the final phase, the Fund evaluated responses and determined which course of action to pursue, including divestment and continued monitoring. DiNapoli said the extensive third phase of the risk mitigation program included a thorough evaluation of the companies, including consultation and analyses by economic advisers and review by fiduciary counsel, to ensure that any actions taken are consistent with the Comptroller’s fiduciary responsibility to the Fund’s members, beneficiaries and retirees.