6 Sep 2016

Govt trusts indirectly invested in weapons, tobacco

8:26 pm on 6 September 2016

Two government trusts, including one that provides scholarships to foster world peace, have been found to have small amounts invested in companies that make controversial weapons and tobacco products.

Both have now divested from all such shares.

Land mine warning sign

Photo: 123RF

The New Zealand Winston Churchill Memorial Trust had nearly $4000 indirectly invested in companies that made cluster bombs, anti-personnel mines, nuclear weapons and tobacco.

The Lilburn Trust, which recognises service to music, had just over $2000 indirectly invested in such companies.

Both funds are administered by the Department of Internal Affairs.

The Reserve Bank's staff superannuation and provident fund admitted last week it too had investments in weapon manufacturers, in response to questions lodged by the Green Party.

A spokesperson from the Department of Internal Affairs said the two trusts each had their own investment policies approved by their trustees, not by the department.

It said both trusts were unaware that a very small amount of their funds were invested in these companies and were dismayed to discover this was the case.

The Winston Churchill Trust divested itself from all of the shares in question within 24 hours and the Lilburn Trust had also since divested.

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