One of the city’s five pension funds has chosen to divest from Russian assets in response to the United States government imposing broad economic sanctions on the nation.
The trustees of the New York City Police Pension Fund passed a resolution Tuesday authorising the office of City Comptroller Brad Lander to begin divesting from Russian firms’ stocks. The city’s five pension plans collectively contain $274.7 billion in assets and provide benefits to 700,000 current and former city employees.
In response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House announced sanctions on many Russian state-owned financial organisations and particular people with Putin links, as well as export limitations on Russia’s high-tech imports.
While Lander has pushed New York City pension funds to divest from Russian assets, each pension fund’s board of directors must make that determination on its own. Lander’s office is currently comparing the funds’ assets to the federal government’s list of sanctioned persons and businesses.
As of February 25th, the police pension fund held Russian equities worth $42.2 million. Last Monday, the combined value of the municipal pension funds’ Russian investments was believed to be over $271 million.
“Freedom cannot be denied in this country or anyplace other. That is why, in light of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine – an unprovoked and unlawful conflict — I support attempts to divest the city’s pension funds of Russian assets,” stated New York City Mayor Eric Adams in a statement Tuesday.
The city has the highest concentration of Ukrainians in the country—150,000.
Additionally, state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has ordered the state’s Common Retirement Fund, which covers over a million state and local government employees, to investigate $110.8 million in current Russian asset investments.
Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive order Sunday prohibiting the state from making investments or purchases that help Russia financially for the duration of the federal government’s economic sanctions.
“While American sanctions currently ban investments in a number of Russian firms, I believe it is sensible to freeze acquisitions in all Russian companies given the uncertainty of the situation and the probability of further deterioration,” DiNapoli said in a statement Tuesday. “This will guarantee that the Fund’s modest exposure to the Russian economy does not expand throughout the course of the divestment process, which is consistent with my fiduciary obligation.”