Friday, January 11, 2019

Share Dealing in Death

More than half a billion pounds of council workers’ pension money has been directly invested by local authorities in arms companies implicated in Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, in which thousands of civilians have been killed.
Council pension funds have sizeable shareholdings in BAE Systems, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, according to nearly 100 freedom of information requests.
Between them, 43 pension funds directly hold shares worth £566m in the five companies and earned more than £18.5m in dividends in 2018, a period in which civilian deaths reportedly surged and a punishing famine took hold.
The councils also hold hundreds of millions of pounds in shares in the five companies via pooled investments, which they do not control directly.

The holdings mean thousands of local authority staff will have their retirement payouts part-funded by the companies, some of which manufacture arms linked to incidents in which civilians and children were killed.

MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a member of the parliamentary committee on arms export controls, said some council employees would be upset to learn how their retirement income was being funded.
“British council workers’ retirement income is being funded by companies that have been allowed by the British and American governments to make much of their profits by satisfying the appetite of Saudi to kill, maim and starve millions of civilians in Yemen,” he said.
The Campaign Against Arms Trade said
council employees’ retirement funds “should be invested in the public good, not in companies that profit from war and conflict.
These aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet; the weapons these companies are producing have had a devastating impact,” said Andrew Smith, a CAAT spokesman.  “The fighter jets and bombs that are being used in Yemen have played a crucial role in creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Councils should not be profiteering from the companies that have made these weapons and have been so complicit in the destruction.”
The council with the largest investment in the five named companies is Lothian, which manages funds worth £7.8bn for staff including Edinburgh city council workers.
Its trustees have £85m invested with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, deriving £3.8m in revenue from their holdings over the latest 12-month period for which records are available.
West Yorkshire pension fund, including Leeds city council and Bradford council employees, had £78.4m of holdings and earned £2m of dividends, spread across BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Airbus.
Tameside pension fund, including Greater Manchester, has £79m invested with Raytheon and BAE Systems, pulling in £2.65m of dividend income over 12 months.

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