A Dutch lobby group campaigning against arms trade has suggested that the €309bn civil service scheme ABP has ignored its own rules by investing in a nuclear arms-related company.
Lobby group Campagne tegen Wapenhandel specifically highlighted a €9m holding in the Indian firm Larsen & Toubro, which is involved in the development of nuclear submarines for India.
According to the group, the investment contravenes ABP’s policy to exclude investments violating the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
ABP said on its website that it complied with national legislation and its obligations based on international treaties.
It argued that as the Netherlands was a signsignatory of the NPT, it had legalised the possession of nuclear weapons by the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United States, Russia, the UK, France and China.
The scheme added that as a result, firms that manufacture nuclear weapons or parts of it, are not excluded from its investment universe.
Responding to the accusation from the pressure group, ABP said that the Indian company did not supply products that were specifically designed for nuclear systems.
“Therefore, the definition of direct involvement in the manufacturing of nuclear systems doesn’t apply, which excludes Larsen & Toubro from the exclusion list for violation of the NPT,” it said.
It added that the pension fund was closely monitoring companies like Larsen & Toubro.
The campaign group further noted that ABP had increased its investments in nuclear arms-related companies by 35% – totaling €1.1bn last year.
“Even if these investments match ABP’s policy, we don’t agree with them,” commented a spokeswoman for the pressure group.
The spokeswoman added that the group’s concerns were shared by a majority of the Dutch population, referring to the results of a survey among 8.500 members by television programme EenVandaag, of whom 64% indicated they opposed ABP’s investments in companies that manufacture nuclear arms, or any part of the arms.
José Meijer, vice chairman of the pension fund, said that if the government adjusted its policy, ABP would be willing to reconsider its rules.
Last year, ABP divested from Japanese power company Tepco, as it deemed the firm’s conduct during and after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima to be at odds with its norms.
ABP said that, as a rule, it did not invest in anti-personnel mines, cluster weapons or chemical and biological weapons, as far as they contravene the NPT.
This also goes for government bonds of countries liable to a UN arms embargo.