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California Invests Heavily In Iran

Updated on March 8, 2010

 California's mammoth pension fund, CalPERs, is now under investigation for heavily investing in firms that do business with Iran, despite the federal laws that prohibit such activity. Worse, two years ago, the State introduced a new law stating that its agencies must sell the investments that support Iran.

What did CalPERs do? It increased its investment holdings in companies that do business with Iran!

The U.S. Department of State lists Iran as one of four countries that sponsor international terrorism, and the Iranian government has faced international condemnation for its deadly crackdown on reformists after the contested presidential election there last year.

CalPERs has $900 million in holdings, of those, 23 are companies that deal with energy or defense related. The California Teachers Retirement Sysyem has 18 such holdings that when combined come to a whopping $347 billion dollars in assets. CalPERS has increased its investments in several companies doing business in Iran, including the Royal Dutch Shell oil company, while decreasing investments in Chevron and Exxon Mobil, which do not do
business in Iran, according to the pension fund. Shell oil is known to have basically ignored the US government's sanction policy toward Iran. Shell, like many other companies, know that the US government really lacks any ability to penalize US firms or their foreign subsidaries. That is the problem!

CalPERS even made new investments in companies working in Iran after the divestment law went into effect. While CalPERS and the teachers' retirement fund have no direct investments in Iran or the Iranian government, and the companies they have shares of mainly have oil and natural gas projects in the country. States such as Illinois and Florida already have divested in Iran.

Shell, although is highly visible in the USA, is not American, but Dutch. The same applies to BP, or British Petroleum. Both have gas stations throughout the US. Having meaningful sanctions on Iran is a political and economic quagmire of sorts, which is why Iran is NOT really concerned about it.



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    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      I wonder if it is possible that the knowing and unknowing investors could lose everything when Iran inevitably uses a nuclear weapon on Israel? It never bothers a financial leech to lose another person's money. It sounds as if the The California Teachers Retirement System executives are either ignorant or they spend a lot of time in Vegas.

      Great hub! I hope a lot of people read it.


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