NEW ZEALAND - The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has defended its holdings in French oil company, Total, because of its operations in Burma.
The fund's shareholdings in Total has come under criticism by local non-government organisations.
The guardians of New Zealand Superannuation hold approximately NZ$18.4m worth of shares in Total S.A. which represents around 0.1% of the total assets of the NZ$13.3bn fund.
The fund said the guardians have a mandate to invest crown contributions in a way that maximises returns without undue risk, and to avoid prejudice to New Zealand's reputation as a responsible member of the world community.
In order to meet this mandate, the guardians have established a responsible investment framework that includes guidelines based on international conventions, New Zealand law, and relevant Crown actions, said the fund.
The guidelines include the United Nations Global Compact principles as a key standard against which to monitor companies on human rights practices. The fund said that according to third-party agency reports, Total S.A. has adopted such a Human Rights policy that encompasses its operations in Burma.
Adrian Orr, the Guardians' chief executive officer, said:"The Guardians are committed to responsible investment. In the situation of Total S.A, given the information at hand, current international conventions, and New Zealand law and Crown actions, the Guardians are operating within their investment mandate. Should that situation change, the Guardians would review this situation."
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