New York’s pension systems want to dump nearly $300 million invested in the Moscow stock market, but can’t because Russia has blocked foreigners from selling shares.
Since Russia began its invasion and brutal attacks on Ukraine, the trustees of all five NYC employee pension systems have voted to divest from $185.9 million in Russian companies and securities.
“A vicious and unjust war continues to be waged on Ukraine, driving deaths, destruction and displacement of civilians. New Yorkers remain steadfast in solidarity with Ukrainians here in our city and abroad,” city comptroller Brad Lander, who oversees the pension systems, said in a statement.
The city aims to “hold the Putin regime and those who continue to fund it accountable, while safeguarding the assets of thousands of active members and beneficiaries,” he said.
On Friday, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, sole trustee of the state employee pension system, directed divestment of an estimated $110.8 million sunk in Russian securities.
Of the city’s money locked into Russian companies, the Teachers Retirement System holds the most – $90 million, followed by the Police Pension Fund ($42.2million); NYCERS, whose members include correction, clerical and sanitation workers ($31.1 million); the NYC Fire Pension Fund ($19.5 million); and the Board of Education Retirement System, ($3.1 million).
But Russia has stymied the New York pension systems and others across the country which want to divest. Moscow closed its stock market to foreigners on Feb. 25 – a hard-ball move seen as retaliation for a US and European freeze on Russian central bank assets.
The pension systems will continue to hold the investments while waiting for Moscow to drop the restriction.
“When the Russian equity market reopens, we will prudently exit those positions,” a Lander spokesperson said.