NORWAY - The Norwegian government pension fund has been accused of unethical investment, despite its highly publicised socially responsible investing guidelines.
According to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, the NOK1, 876bn (US$328bn) fund has been found to hold a NOK862m (US$145m) stake in Canadian mining company Barrick Gold, which has allegedly been blamed for poisoning islanders in the Philippines.
Barrick Gold took over a company called Placer Dome which mined copper, silver and gold on the island of Marinduque. The company also reportedly polluted local water supplies leading to amputations and even death among the local population.
Barrick Gold has vigorously opposed the claims against it but islanders are said to be suing the company.
Over recent years the Norwegian pension fund has increased its investment in Barrick Gold, which was dropped from the S&P 500 in July 2002 when the index moved to an all-US profile.
The fund achieved a 1.5% return in the first quarter of 2007 – however a stronger krone in relation to the investment currencies reduced the portfolio’s market value by NOK 27.6bn (US$4.82bn).
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