Russia Blocks NY Pension Systems from Withdrawing $300M in Stocks

by Megan Molseed
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New York pension systems hope to get rid of almost $300 million invested in the Russian stock market. However, these funds cannot be dumped as Russia has now blocked foreigners from selling shares. These developments come after trustees of the five New York City employee systems voted to divest funds following Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine late last month.

What We Know

  • All five New York City Employee pension systems voted to dump funds invested within the Russian stock market.
  • These pension systems are making this move in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine late last month.
  • New York’s state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli directed the divestment of Russian securities.
  • Among those that hold pensions within the system are the teachers union, the fire department pension system, and the New York City Police pensions, among others.
  • However, Russia is blocking these efforts by banning the sale of stocks by foreigners.

Russia Blocks NY Pension Systems From Selling Millions Worth Of Russian Stocks

All five of New York City’s pension funds have voted to sell securities connected to Russia. This move comes in protest of Russia’s Ukraine invasion in late February.

“A vicious and unjust war continues to be waged on Ukraine,” notes New York City comptroller Brad Lander.

“Driving deaths, destruction and displacement of civilians,” explains Lander, who oversees the pension systems throughout the city.

“New Yorkers remain steadfast in solidarity with Ukrainians here in our city and abroad,” the comptroller continues.

Landers continues noting that the city intends to “hold the Putin regime and those who continue to fund it accountable, while safeguarding the assets of thousands of active members and beneficiaries.”

New York State Comptroller Directs Divestments of Russian Security Funds

Thomas DiNapoli, the New York State comptroller, directed the divestment of millions invested into Russian securities. However, Russia has closed this possibility to foreigners. Moscow has closed its stock market to foreigners since February 25. This, experts note, is likely a retaliatory move. A move made in reaction to the U.S. and European markets putting a freeze on Russian bank accounts. Of course, the options may be few and far between right now for dumping these securities. However, a spokesperson for Landers’ office says that “when the Russian equity market reopens, we will prudently exit those positions.”

Which NY Pension Systems Hold Stocks In These Russian Companies, And How Much?

Of the money connected to the city pension funds locked in these Russian markets, the Teachers Retirement System has invested the most with $90 million. The New York City Police pension fund has about $42.2 million invested. The New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS) has $31.1 million invested in these funds. This group includes workers who serve in the correction, clerical, and sanitation departments.

Additionally, the New York City Fire Pension fund has invested about $19.5 million. The Board of education Retirement system has invested just over $3 million.

Outsider.com