FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2005
Contact: Laura Rivera, (212) 669-2701, [email protected]
NYC PENSION FUNDS URGE COMPANIES TO REVIEW BUSINESS TIES TO SUDAN DUE TO HUMAN RIGHTS AND TERRORISM CONCERNS
New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., as the custodian and investment advisor to the New York City pension funds, is requesting that dozens of companies in the United States and overseas immediately review their business ties to Sudan.
Thompson began sending out letters this week that ask that each company review its business ties to Sudan, examine any potential financial and reputational risks, and report its findings to shareholders.
“I write regarding an issue of great concern to the trustees of our funds – the potential risk to our investments in companies with business ties to Sudan, a country governed by a regime that has committed gross human rights violations against its own people, and that the U.S. State Department has designated as a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’,” Thompson wrote.
As shareholders, he said, a company’s business dealings with Sudan “could expose the Company to negative publicity, public protests, and a loss of investor confidence, all of which could have a negative effect on shareholder value.”
The companies that received letters were selected based in part on an analysis of the companies’ business activities in Sudan provided in a report by the Conflict Securities Advisory Group, which is a Washington, DC-based independent research organization that profiles publicly-traded companies that have business ties to Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Iraq and North Korea.
So far, Thompson has sent letters to: Alcatel of France; BAE Systems PLC of the United Kingdom; China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) of China; Finmeccanica Spa of Italy; and, Royal Dutch Petroleum of the Netherlands. The City’s Pension Funds have more than 8.6 million shares worth more than $209.9 million in these companies.
“We are sending a clear message that City workers are concerned about investing their pension funds in companies that have ties to the Sudanese government, which violates the rights of its people and sponsors terrorism,” said Betsy Gotbaum, NYCERS trustee and New York City Public Advocate. “Companies that do business with such a regime put their reputations, and by extension shareholder value, at risk.”
"As a fiduciary, I am concerned that some of the members' retirement assets may be at risk because of a company's operations in the Sudan,” said Lillian Roberts, NYCERS trustee and Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO. “The trustees have a responsibility to safeguard the members' assets, and the companies have a responsibility to their shareholders and the public to both review their operations in the Sudan and issue a report on the risks of doing business in a country ruled by a despotic regime and known as a sponsor of terrorism."
Previously, Thompson urged General Electric, Halliburton, Cooper Cameron and Aon to examine their ties to Iran because of its designation as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” In February, General Electric agreed to cease doing business in Iran. In March, the Halliburton Company agreed not to forge any new business ties with Iran and the Cooper Cameron Corporation took steps to sever its business ties with Iran. In April, Aon agreed to establish a committee to review the corporation’s operations in Iran, prompting the Comptroller to withdraw the shareholder resolutions he had submitted to the companies.
“We are mindful that in 2001, the then Acting United States SEC Chairman, Laura Unger, stated that ‘(t)he fact that a foreign company is doing material business with a government or entity on OFAC’s (U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assents Control) sanctions list is, in the SEC’s staff’s view, substantially likely to be significant to a reasonable investor’s decision about whether to invest in that company’,” Thompson wrote. “As fiduciaries of the New York City pension funds, we are duty-bound to consider this assessment.”
The trustees for the five Pension Systems are:
New York City Fire Department Pension Fund: Mayor Michael Bloomberg; New York City Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta (Chair); New York City Finance Commissioner Martha E. Stark; Stephen Cassidy, President, James Slevin, Vice President, Robert Straub, Treasurer, and John Kelly, Brooklyn Representative and Chair, Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York; Peter Gorman, President and Captains’ Rep., Nicholas J. Visconti, Chiefs’ Rep., and Stephen J. Carbone, Lieutenants’ Rep., Uniformed Fire Officers Association; and, Joseph Gagliardi, Marine Engineers Association.
New York City Police Pension Fund: Mayor Michael Bloomberg; New York City Finance Commissioner Martha E. Stark; New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly (Chair); Patrick Lynch, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association; Michael Palladino, Detectives Endowment Association; Edwin Mullins, Sergeants Benevolent Association; Anthony Garvey, Lieutenants Benevolent Association; and, John Driscoll, Captains Endowment Association.
New York City Employees’ Retirement System: New York City Finance Commissioner Martha E. Stark (Chair); New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum; Borough Presidents C. Virginia Fields (Manhattan), Helen Marshall (Queens), Marty Markowitz (Brooklyn), Adolfo Carrion (Bronx), and James Molinaro (Staten Island); Lillian Roberts, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME; Roger Toussaint, President Transport Workers Union Local 100; and, Carroll (Carl) Haynes, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 237.
New York City Teachers’ Retirement System: New York City Finance Commissioner Martha E. Stark (Chair); Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, New York City Department of Education; and, Sandra March, Melvyn Aaronson and Mona Romain, all of the United Federation of Teachers.
New York City Board of Education Retirement System: Mayoral appointees Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, Alan Aviles, Phillip Berry, David Chang, Tino Hernandez, Augusta Souza Kappner, Richard Menschel and Marita Regan; Borough President appointees Jesse Mojica (Bronx), Martine G. Guerrier (Brooklyn), Michael Flowers (Queens), and Joan Correale (Staten Island); and employee members Thomas J. Malanga of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 891, and Milagros Rodriguez of District Council 37, Local 372.
A letter can be viewed at the Comptroller’s web site: www.comptroller.nyc.gov.
New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr.
One Centre Street, Room 530
New York, N.Y. 10007
(212) 669-2636 (w)
(347) 804-7205 (cell)
(212) 815-8719 (fax)