The Norwegian fund that administers all the oil money that the Norwegian people have accumulated over the year has been going through a time of serious soul searching. Last year the Fund was faced with accusations over its investments in companies in Burma in EarthRights International’s Broken Ethics report. This caused some turmoil both inside and outside the fund organization and not least among the Norwegian people who have a difficult time reconciling with the fact that they had been contributing to the oppression of the Burmese people. In a recent development has the NOK3.1trn (€405bn) Norwegian Government Pension Fund excluded the Malaysian logging company Lingui Developments Bhd on the recommendation of the Council of Ethics, an internal function within the fund that oversees the investments. Lingui, which operates in the tropical rainforest, has been blacklisted “based on the risk that the company contributes to severe environmental damage” the Norwegian Ministry of Finance said. The fund held shares worth NOK 2.7 million in Lingui Developments Berhad at year end 2009. “The divestment from the company has been completed,” the Norwegian Ministry of Finance continued.
The move brings the number of companies excluded from the fund’s investment universe to 51. There are now 10 firms excluded for severe environmental damage which for the majority is involved in mining operations. The company Lingui is a subsidiary of Samling Global, which was excluded by the fund in August 2010. Also among the excluded companies we find Wal-Mart stores for what is claimed to be “the systematic human rights violations” the company have been involved in.
For its part, Lingui says its wood products are derived from forests “managed in accordance to approved international and local regulatory standards”.
The Ethical Council based its recommendation on satellite images, documentation and field visits.