Public pension funds divest from Russian markets

With sweeping sanctions imposed almost universally by Western countries on Russia, US states are also poised to divest public pension funds Russian markets. So far, Connecticut, California, Colorado, New York and Illinois are clearly intent on quickly siphoning off Russian money.

“Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has resulted in unprecedented sanctions against Russian businesses and individuals,” New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. in a statement ordering a review of New York State Joint Retirement Fund investments to divest from all Russian ties. Sanctions enacted last week sent Russia’s economy into a tailspin, dramatically increasing the financial risk of any organization with money tied up in domestic markets.

As directors review steps toward divestment, DiNapoli ordered an immediate freeze on all purchases from Russian companies, “due to the unpredictability of the situation and the likelihood of conditions deteriorating.” This will ensure that the (pension) fund does not increase its minimum exposure to the Russian economy while completing its divestment review, in line with my fiduciary duty,” he said. “This crisis has exposed major political and investment risks related to President Putin’s tyrannical and disorderly foreign policy, leading to sanctions that have significantly hampered Russia’s already weak economic growth.”

The New York State Joint Retirement Fund has about $110.8 million in public equity investments, including direct stakes and mixed funds in Russian companies, the statement said.

“New Yorkers, including current and retired police officers, stand in solidarity with Ukraine and are proud to help cut President Putin and his enablers from global financial markets,” said New York Comptroller Brad Lander. “We hope the global response will hasten an end to the aggression and a quick resolution that will save lives and support the many people displaced by this violence.

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