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AP Worldstream: Lawmakers want New York to divest its funds from companies with terror list ties

Published: Jun 17, 2007

New York state lawmakers called Sunday for the state to divest its billions of dollars in pension funds from companies that do business with the countries on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist nations: Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea.

“Do we really want our dollars going to our enemies?” said Democratic State Senator Jeff Klein. “Clearly it seems strange that New York state is sending young men and women overseas, however we’re not yet tapping our most important weapon, our pension fund.”

At a news conference in front of the United Nations, Klein released a report that found that New York’s public employee pension fund has about $12 billion (A9 billion) invested in 235 companies that have direct dealings with the four nations.

Those companies include Chevron Corp., Coca-Cola and Royal Dutch Shell.

“As citizens of New York, we can show that we are still as united against terrorism as strongly as we were on September 11th,” Klein said. New York’s pension fund is the second largest in the United States, after California’s.

A growing number of states have passed or are considering legislation to pull their investments out of companies that conduct business with the four nations on the State Department list. Missouri last year became the first state to order its employee pension funds to dump shares of companies that deal with those four countries.

Klein said he has introduced legislation that would require the state comptroller to do the same.

At least six states _ California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey and Oregon _ have begun to divest public pension funds from Sudan, where the government and its militia allies are accused of pursuing a genocide campaign in the Darfur region.

Last week, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said he would pursue possible divestment of funds from Sudan, saying, “The genocide in Darfur is a challenge to our collective capacity to do good.”

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