CLIMATE CHANGE: Strathclyde Pension Fund accused of hidden investments by human rights group

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign made the claim against Strathclyde Pension Fund after it emerged the fund no longer directly invests in arms firms at the centre of divestment campaigns.

Instead, the SPF has moved to pooled funds which means it still invests in these companies but only indirectly. The SPSC said this is a “much less transparent type of holding” adding it was given the impression that SPF had divested from some firms.

The SPF said in response it has “not once claimed” to have divested from companies adding that “the only people ever to have suggested that – wrongly – are the SPSC”.

SPF – Scotland’s largest council pension fund with over 250,000 members and £20bn of investments –has directly invested in hundreds of companies.

Large numbers of West Dunbartonshire Council staff are in the Strathclyde Pension Fund.

The fund regularly publishes lists of its investments including the names of firms and details of how many shares it holds in each and their value in sterling.

Investigative reporter Billy Briggs maintains the SPF recently switched to pooled funds, a way of putting sums of money from many people into a large fund spread across many investments and managed by professionals. Investing this way can be easier and less risky than buying shares in individual companies directly.

Pension ‘complicit in illegal occupation’

The SPSC has been campaigning for years asking the SPF to stop investing in firms allegedly “complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation” of the West Bank. The Time to Divest campaign is supported by Unison Scotland.

Firms targeted by SPSC include Boeing, Caterpillar, DXC Technology, General Dynamics, General Electric, L3Harris Technologies, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies, and Lockheed Martin.

These were all previously listed by SPF when it published details of its investments. But although SPF still invests in these companies, its latest asset list does not name them because the fund no longer invests directly. The names of 794 firms are no longer listed including arms, fossil fuel and mining firms, said SPSC.

The SPSC’s Gerry Coutts, who is also a member of SPF, expressed his frustration at SPFs “obfuscations”.

He said the reason for SPSC’s campaign is that the “most basic human rights of Palestinians are being crushed on a daily basis”.

He added: “Our pensions are being linked to companies complicit in Israel’s military and settlement industry, helping to sustain violations of international law. Yet, the people in charge of my pension are refusing to take responsibility and to properly consider how and where they invest my money.”

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