Sweden’s AP3 defends accusations of investment violations

Sweden’s AP3 has defended accusations that it has violated the AP Fund Act and United Nations’ (UN) Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) by investing in the production of nuclear weapons.

Accusations were made against the pension fund by the country’s public service radio broadcaster, Sverige Radio, last week. The broadcaster had accused the fund of investing SEK 1bn in 15 blacklisted companies, based on a review by Ekonomiekot. It stated that the other AP funds have divested from shares in companies that produce nuclear weapons, based on the UN’s agreement.

However, in a statement, AP3 said it takes the accusations “very seriously” but it “denies the allegations”.

“AP3 has no investments in companies that the AP Funds' Ethics Council has concluded violates the UN Convention on Non-Proliferation Treaty,” it stated. It said it has always followed the Council on Ethics’ recommendations since it was established in 2006.

The Council on Ethics is tasked with assessing which companies violate UN conventions and what the Swedish government has committed to banning, and then recommending that the AP funds exclude these companies. In its defence, AP3 said the Swedish government has chosen not to sign the UN convention that prohibits nuclear weapons.

As a result, it said all the AP funds are free to choose whether to invest in such companies and they all have different ways of conducting their management. Therefore, AP funds’ investment and sustainability processes differ.

“From time-to-time AP3 receives criticism about companies in our portfolio. When such criticism arises, we listen and evaluate whether it is justified in relation to our mission. We handle many complex issues within the framework of our operations and always strive to handle them responsibly, and this issue is no exception.”

However, it said that it is conducting a review of its sustainability work, which will be completed next year. The result of this may lead to changes in the fund’s portfolio but it stressed that it only excludes companies based on the recommendations of the Council on Ethics.

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