Thursday, August 18, 2016

Kiwisaver funds which invest in cluster bombs should be prosecuted

This morning, the New Zealand Herald revealed that New Zealand kiwisaver funds are consistently making unethical investments in companies on the New Zealand Superannuation Fund's blacklist. Those companies are involved in the tobacco industry, international human rights violations, and nuclear weapons manufacture. That's unethical, and kiwisavers should be getting upset about it and applying pressure, but it gets worse. Because they're not just investing in nuclear weapons, but in cluster bombs - and that's illegal:

A Herald investigation has found funds run by three KiwiSaver providers, who collectively have more than 400,000 members, have investments in companies making cluster munitions.

A number of Westpac-managed funds - including the balanced, conservative, growth and moderate funds and the CPP Funds numbered one through five - were listed as holding shares in Northrop Grumman Corporation, General Dynamics and Textron worth a total of $1,552,660.

AMP disclosed investments worth $572,703 in Textron and General Dynamics by its aggressive, default, growth, moderate, balanced, moderate balanced, cash and conservative funds.

Aon's Russell LifePoints funds - including balance, conservative, growth, and target dates 2015 through 2055 - disclosed $192,136 worth of investments in General Dynamics.

Section 10(2) of the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 imposes a penalty of seven years imprisonment or up to a $500,000 fine on anyone who " provides or invests funds with the intention that the funds be used, or knowing that they are to be used, in the development or production of cluster munitions". These funds appear to be violating the law, and they need to be prosecuted for it. Investing in cluster munitions isn't just unethical, it is also a crime, and the law needs to be enforced.

Meanwhile, isn't it time the anti-nuclear law was updated to include such language as well?