Swedish state pension buffer fund AP3 has denied an allegation it breaks the law by investing in several companies involved in the nuclear weapons business, saying it has no such holdings that the AP Funds’ Council on Ethics has singled out as breaching a key international treaty.
In a statement on Thursday, the SEK467bn (€46.1bn) pension fund said: “Accusations are being levelled against AP3 regarding the fund’s violation of the AP Fund Act and the UN Convention concerning the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“AP3 takes this very seriously and 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,” the Stockholm-based fund said.
In a news report the same day, national broadcaster Sveriges Radio had said: “AP3 is investing SEK1bn of Swedes’ pension money in blacklisted nuclear weapon companies despite the fact the law clearly advises not to, that’s according to a Swedish Radio News investigation.”
The radio station said its economy desk had conducted an investigation of the holdings of 600 Swedish funds and compared them to the blacklists of the big banks and AP7 – the state pension fund that provides the default option in the premium pension system.
Sveriges Radio said AP3 had SEK1bn of holdings in 15 companies involved with nuclear weapons, including Northrop Grumman and Honeywell, which delivered systems to the US weapons programme.
The broadcaster said the other AP funds had scrapped their nuclear weapons holdings years ago.
AP3 said in its response that according to the preparatory work for the new law, the AP funds had to cooperate by developing common guidelines on which assets they should not invest in.
“The First to Fourth AP Funds have jointly given the Council on Ethics the task of assessing which companies violate UN conventions where there are clear a ban that the Swedish Parliament has signed and recommended to the AP funds to exclude these companies.
“AP3, like the other funds, has always followed the Council on Ethics’ recommendations since the Council on Ethics was established in 2006,” the fund said.
It also said: “It may also be worth noting that there is a UN convention that clearly prohibits nuclear weapons that the Riksdag [parliament] has chosen not to sign.”
Sveriges Radio quoted representatives of Dutch peace campaign organisation PAX and disarmament organisation Swedish Doctors Against Nuclear Weapons (SLMK) criticising AP3 for investing in firms linked to nuclear weapons.
The report also included quotes from Peter Lundqvist, head of ownership and sustainability at AP3 as well as chair of the Council on Ethics, saying that AP3’s holdings were in line with the law and followed the council’s guidance.
However, AP3 said in its statement that it sometimes received criticism for companies in the portfolio.
“When such criticism arises, we listen, take it in and evaluate whether it is justified in relation to our mission,” the pension fund said, adding that it had initiated a review of its sustainability work some time ago, and that the work would be completed next year.
“The result of this work may involve changes in the fund’s portfolio, but AP3 insists that we only address issues concerning the exclusion of companies on a convention basis on the recommendation of the AP funds’ ethics council,” the fund said.