One of the city’s five pension funds has voted to divest from Russian assets as the U.S. government issues sweeping economic sanctions against the country.
The trustees of the New York City Police Pension Fund approved a resolution Tuesday for City Comptroller Brad Lander's office to begin divesting from securities issued by Russian companies. The city’s five pension funds hold a combined $274.7 billion and cover 700,000 current and retired city employees.
In retaliation for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House has issued sanctions against certain Russian state-owned financial institutions and specific individuals with ties to Putin, and imposed export restrictions on Russia’s high-tech imports.
While Lander has urged the New York City pensions to divest from Russian assets, the board of each pension fund must make that decision individually. Lander’s office is reviewing the funds’ holdings against the federal government’s list of sanctioned individuals and companies.
The police pension fund held Russian securities that were worth $42.2 million as of February 25th. The total of the city pension funds’ Russian assets were reportedly worth about $271 million last week.
“Freedom cannot be denied, here or anywhere. That’s why I stand in support of efforts to divest the city’s pension funds from Russian assets in light of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine — an unprovoked and unjustified war,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams in a statement Tuesday.
The city has the largest population of Ukrainians—150,000—in the country.
The state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has also urged the state’s Common Retirement Fund, which covers more than a million state and local government employees, to review $110.8 million in existing investments in Russian assets.
Governor Kathy Hochul issued an executive order Sunday to end state investments and purchases that financially benefit Russia, for as long as the federal government’s economic sanctions continue.
“While American sanctions already prohibit investments in many Russian companies, I believe it is prudent to freeze purchases in all Russian companies due to the situation’s unpredictability and the likelihood that conditions will deteriorate," DiNapoli said in a statement Tuesday. "This will ensure that the Fund does not increase its minimal exposure to the Russian economy while completing its divestment review, consistent with my fiduciary duty."