Tayside local council pension fund has millions in Russian Sberbank
A public sector pension pot from Tayside could divest its £3.4million from a sanctioned Russian bank following Vladimir Putin’s shock invasion of Ukraine.
Dundee City Council, which administers the local government pension fund for the area, confirmed to the Courier that the investment in Sberbank is being “actively reviewed”.
The Tayside fund is one of several Scottish public sector pension schemes with a combined total of over £26million linked to the bank.
Sberbank is Russia’s largest lender and is majority owned by Putin’s government.
Recent figures show Strathclyde had holdings worth £16.4million, while Highland had £4.43million, Lothian had £1.33million and Orkney had £1.24million of pounds sterling.
The bank’s European subsidiaries faced failure on Monday with a run on deposits and sanctions imposed by Western powers in response to the attack on Ukraine, which began last week.
The local government pension fund‘s investments in Sberbank emerged just a day after an investigation showed the Scottish parliamentary pension scheme held assets worth £299,571 in the Moscow-based lender.
Asked about the investment future of the Tayside pension fund, a spokeswoman for Dundee City Council said: ‘The pension fund currently holds shares in Sberbank through an investment manager responsible for making all decisions of investment.
“We are unable to comment on plans to buy or sell individual holdings, but we can confirm that the holding is being actively reviewed by the investment manager.”
The local government pension scheme in Scotland holds assets worth over £45 billion.
It serves over 236,000 active members, over 140,000 deferred members and over 169,000 retirees and dependents.
Employers participating in the Tayside Pension Fund include Angus Council, Dundee City Council, Dundee & Angus College, Perth & Kinross Council, Perth College UHI, as well as non-uniform police and service personnel from Scotland. Scottish Fire and Rescue.
“Crucial Moment in History”
Scottish Labor Party external affairs spokeswoman Sarah Boyack said it was time to “stand firm” and “eradicate” the influence of Russian finance.
“Pension funds need to sever those ties and divest urgently,” she said.
Meanwhile, Holyrood chairman Alison Johnson announced that she had written to the trustees of the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme (SPPS), asking them to divest all Russian holdings.
Pauline McNeill MSP, chair of the directors, has in turn written to fund managers Baillie Gifford asking her to immediately divest from Sberbank and all other Russian companies.
In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I have written to the trustees of Parliament’s Pension Scheme asking that all Russian holdings be divested immediately.
You can read my letter in full at https://t.co/dpzQTy2uds pic.twitter.com/E2nqHdoaJI
— Alison Johnstone (@POScotParl) February 28, 2022
Holyrood parties had earlier demanded action.
Green MSP Ross Greer said: ‘I don’t understand why the Scottish Parliament Pension Fund has stakes in Sberbank in the first place.
“But, in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is clearly inappropriate for that to continue.
“Some fund administrators have resisted ethical investment policies for too long, but I’m sure most MSPs and former MSPs will want this issue addressed urgently and Sberbank immediately divested.”
Trustees agreed in March 2021 that all future pension contributions would be invested in a sustainable and ethical fund.
Tory Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg’s investment firm previously held shares in Sberbank worth £44.5million, but they were sold as the Ukraine crisis escalated.
A spokesman for the Scottish Parliament previously said: “The trustees agreed in March 2021 that all future pension contributions would be invested in a sustainable and ethical fund which excludes companies which contravene United Nations human rights principles. people, work, the environment and the fight against corruption.
“The SPPS invests in mutual funds with Baillie Gifford. He is one of the many investors in the funds, so beyond these ethical conditions, the trustees cannot guide Baillie Gifford in their investment strategy.
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[Tayside local council pension fund has millions in Russian Sberbank]