Ethical practice: Russian investments off-limits in NZ

Good ethical practice has it that now’s the time to rid yourself of any investments in schemes that benefit Russia in any way.

Early starters are KiwiSaver managers, some of whom have been selling millions of dollars in investments in Russian companies. Others, like the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, are reviewing their positions as Russia continues its attack on the Ukraine.

But Barry Coates (pictured), an ethical investment expert, says all New Zealand fund managers should sell their shares in Russian companies. Immediately.

He says it’s especially important they sell shares in industries that fund much of Russia’s military spending: major state-backed enterprises, government bonds, and oil and gas companies.

“The New Zealand public should be assured that their funds are not supporting the Russian state at a time of massive suffering for the people of Ukraine.”

He says most New Zealand investments are in Russian oil and gas companies whose earnings play a major role in financing the Russian military. These should be sold.

“There are also investments in Russian government bonds. While sanctions are not required of New Zealand fund managers, an ethical position would be to divest immediately.”

“Sanctions may not be required for KiwiSaver and investment funds that invest our savings, but those funds should divest anyway. It is not a responsible position for New Zealand funds to be investing in Russian companies or the Russian government. It is important that the New Zealand public’s hard-earned savings are not used to support Russia’s warmongering.”

Coates, a former Green MP and current chief executive of Mindful Money, says there was about $100 million invested in Russia at the end of last September. The investments were spread across KiwiSaver, other investments, the NZ Superannuation Fund and ACC.

“While the value [of New Zealand’s KiwiSaver] investment is not globally significant, many New Zealanders will be concerned that their funds are being used to support Russian companies at a time when civilians are being terrorised and killed by Russian aggression.”

Russia bites back

Just now, pulling investments from Russia might not be a simple matter.

The Bank of Russia has banned brokers from selling securities held by foreigners on the Moscow Exchange.

In addition, the Moscow Exchange has been closed since the beginning of the week amid a full-blown financial crisis triggered by Western sanctions.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: , ,