Nottinghamshire County Council has invested millions of pounds of its employees’ pension fund in companies involved in the war in Yemen – despite having a ‘responsible investment’ policy.
£25.6m of the Nottinghamshire Pension Fund is invested in firms which sell weapons and equipment to Saudi Arabia, who lead a coalition fighting rebel forces in north Yemen.
This conflict has raged since 2015 and been labelled the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crisis by the United Nations.
Yet the Nottinghamshire fund claims to consider the ethical grounds of its decisions, as well as their financial merit.
£806,111.52 was made through investments in Yemen-linked companies in the last 12 months of records available.
But people are speaking out against the fund.
Nottingham’s Amnesty International group said more responsibility must be taken for the impact of such investments.
A spokesperson said: “Only a handful of countries have done the right thing and stopped the conveyor belt of arms to Yemen’s devastating conflict.
“Others must follow in their footsteps or they will share responsibility for the devastating toll these arms transfers are wreaking on civilians in Yemen.”
Lockheed Martin, the largest defence contractor in the world, is one of the arms dealers involved.
One of their precision guided missiles blew up a school bus, killing dozens of children, in August 2018.
The fund also sends its money to Raytheon, whose Arizona-made missiles were found at the wreckage of a wedding bombed by Saudi coalition forces on April 22nd last year.
Investments have been made in BAE Systems too, a British multinational defence and aerospace business who sell their fighter jets to the Saudi state.
In 2016, they were accused of profiting from the rising number of bombings targeted at civilians in Yemen by Amnesty International, having seen similar revenue growth in the wake of the Syrian war.
42 other local authorities have similar investments, including Lothian in Scotland, West Yorkshire and Tameside in Greater Manchester, a Guardian investigation revealed.
It means that across the country employees are unwittingly funding these controversial companies via their pension contributions.
Nottinghamshire people expressed outrage on social media.
Nottinghamshire local government pension fund has large amounts invested in these warmongering companies.
Time to divest. Invest in local public goods (like housing, transport and renewables) instead. https://t.co/ftUVIx41Ua
— Duncan Davis (@duncanjdavis) January 10, 2019
Duncan Davis, from Nottingham, called for the council to divest from the arms companies, while Alex Meredith simply asked “really Nottinghamshire?!”
Yet Nottingham Pension Fund defends its investment policies.
A spokesperson said: “Nottinghamshire Pension Fund takes its key responsibility to achieve an investment return to pay pensions, and its responsibilities as an investor, very seriously.
“The performance of the fund has a direct impact on local taxpayers and our strategy is one of engagement with companies, rather than negative screening to exclude stocks from the portfolio on environmental, social and governance (ESG) or ethical grounds,” they added.
They stated that the fund was mostly externally managed, but that the fund would not appoint any manager who did not show responsible investment was part of their decision process.