NORWAY - The Norway Pension Fund Global has divested from two Israeli companies and a Malaysian business claiming the firms engage in "grossly unethical activity".
The Ministry of Finance, which sets the financial guidelines for the Global fund, has excluded Africa Israel Investments and its subsidiary Danya Cebus, as well as Malaysian company Samling Global.
"The decision to exclude these companies from the GPFG is based on the Council on Ethics assessment that they are contributing to or are themselves responsible for grossly unethical activity," says Minister of Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen.
Africa Israel is a majority owner in Danya, which develops settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, the Ministry of Finance said in a release. Officials at the firm could not be reached for comment.
"The Council on Ethics bases its recommendation on the fact that the international community is united in the view that the area east of the 1967 line is occupied territory and as such comes under the purview of the fourth Geneva Convention. Several United Nations Security Council resolutions and an International Court of Justice advisory opinion have concluded that the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory is prohibited under this Convention," says Johnsen.
Samling Global, a producer of timber, plywood, veneer and palm oil, has operations in Malaysia and Guyana that contribute to illegal logging and environmental damage, the Ministry claimed.
Samling said: "We are disappointed by the announcement made by the Norwegian Government Pension Fund. Their public characterisation of us is inaccurate and not based on complete information. We have invited them to visit our operations for first-hand knowledge of our business and to clarify issues, to no response. The company remains committed to the continual improvement of its sustainable forest management processes and practices."
The sovereign wealth fund owned NOK7.2m ($1.2m) worth of shares in Africa Israel and shares worth NOK8.1m in Samling.
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