Cardiff Liberal Democrats have called for a pensions clean-up plan after it emerged that the council’s pension funds are invested in companies linked to environmental and cultural damage, money laundering, discrimination, and censorship.
Commenting, leader of the Liberal Democrat group Cllr Rhys Taylor said:
“We have a responsibility to ensure that the actions and decisions of Cardiff Council don’t undermine the rights and wellbeing of people abroad.
“Some of these companies are caught up in political censorship and money laundering scandals and are among the lowest ranking companies for equal pay, racial justice, and LGBT rights worldwide.
“These investments aren’t safe for investors like Cardiff Council let alone people and communities worldwide. Cardiff Council should be leading the way and clean up its act."
The below are a sample of those investments.
£846,000 – ENEOS HOLDINGS,INC.- Eneos Holdings is a poor overall performer. With an 'F' rating of 10.4 for overall impact (bottom 10% of all companies), Eneos Holdings ranks 70th out of 71 industry peers, behind Antero Resources, Helmerich & Payne, Patterson-UTI Energy and 66 others, and ahead of W&T Offshore. On top material causes for Eneos Holdings's industry (Oil & Gas), Eneos Holdings performs poorly in Disaster Readiness and Effective Aid (8.5 score), Healthy Oceans (0.0), Sustainable Use of Water (0.0) and 13 other causes where it received a 'D' or 'F' score. Eneos Holdings did not receive an 'A' rating on any metric. LGBT Equality (F 10.7). Equal Pay and Opportunity (F 11.7). Racial Injustice and Civil Rights (D 23.6). Provided by Ethos ESG
£1,370,000 – RIO TINTO LIMITED NPV - aIn May 2020, to expand the Brockman 4 mine, Rio Tinto demolished a sacred cave in Juukan Gorge, Western Australia, which had evidence of 46,000 years of continual human occupation, and was considered the only inland site in Australia to show signs of continual human occupation through the last Ice Age. Rio Tinto later apologised for the distress caused and CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques subsequently stepped down.
Rio Tinto has been widely criticised by environmental groups as well as the government of Norway for the environmental impacts of its mining activities: claims of severe environmental damages related to Rio Tinto's engagement in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia led the Government Pension Fund of Norway to exclude Rio Tinto from its investment portfolio.
Academic observers have also expressed concern regarding Rio Tinto's operations in Papua New Guinea, which they allege were one catalyst of the Bougainville separatist crisis. There have also been concerns over corruption: in July 2017 the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced the launch of a fraud and corruption investigation into the company's business practices in Guinea.
£1,069,000 - WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION NPV - In November 2019, it was revealed that Westpac was guilty of violating anti-money laundering, child exploitation and counter-terror finance laws. Westpac's CEO, Brian Hartzer, resigned in the wake of these. According to Australian regulators, Westpac had 23 million anti-money laundering law violations, which is Australia's biggest ever anti-money laundering scandal to date.
On 24 September 2020, Westpac and AUSTRAC agreed to a AUD $1.3 billion penalty over Westpac's breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006. This is the largest fine ever issued in Australian corporate history.
£1,145,000 - SINA CORPORATION - The Cyberspace Administration of China reprimanded Sina in 2015, accusing the online portal of having "distorted news facts, violated morality and engaged in media hype". On 16 April 2018, the CAC launched an investigation into the news portal for alleged inclinations to factual errors, and failure to curtail vulgar and explicit content.
£6,174,000 - TENCENT HOLDINGS LIMITED - Tencent's WeChat platform has been accused of blocking TikTok videos and the censorship of politically sensitive content
£827,000 – CHINA MOBILE LIMITED - In November 2020, President Donald Trump issued an executive order prohibiting any American company or individual from owning shares in companies that the United States Department of Defense has listed as having links to the People's Liberation Army, which included China Mobile.
£5,987,000 - ALIBABA GROUP HOLDING LIMITED - Since 2012, the Chinese Communist Party has had a Party Committee in place in the company and has over 2,000 party members as Alibaba employees. In 2019, the Chinese government began embedding officials inside major technology companies, including Alibaba.