Friday, June 29, 2007

Yet more unethical investing

I'd avoided reading the Listener this week because of the picture of Princess Diana on the cover. But in amongst the lifestyle crap, including an inane piece on a reader's poll from six years ago, there is a serious piece by Matt Nippert following up on his earlier expose of unethical (and possibly illegal) investments by Crown Financial Institutions. It seems the government had invested $14 milion of taxpayer's money in British arms manufacturer BAE Systems. I say "had" because it's probably worth a lot less now, given that the share price dropped 11% on the news that they were being investigated by the US Justice Department for the same corrupt deals that Tony Blair deliberately turned a blind eye to "in the national interest". But despite the fact that it is now the subject of two separate investigations on both sides of the Atlantic, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund is not considering divesting from this corrupt corporation. Which really does beg the question: just how vile and criminal does a business have to be before the NZSF will refuse to taint our money with it?

Unfortunately, the NZSF refuses to say (though looking at their existing investments - tobacco companies, gambling, arms dealers, Halliburton, oil companies with poor human rights records, oh, and companies which support genocide in Sudan - you have to wonder whether they have any restrictions at all, or whether it's just "fuck the morals, does it make any money"). The good news, apparently, is that they're working on it, and will have some guidelines by the end of the year. The sooner the better, IMHO.