Fife Council invests £10m in world's biggest arms dealers

Fife Council's pension fund has money invested in ten of the world's biggest arms manufacturers, the Press can reveal.
Fife Council's pension fund is invested in some of the biggest arms firms in the world.Fife Council's pension fund is invested in some of the biggest arms firms in the world.
Fife Council's pension fund is invested in some of the biggest arms firms in the world.

According to a Freedom of Information request by the Press, at least £10m of the pension pot is invested among those arms firms – some of which have been linked to landmines and clusterbombs.

The revelation comes after a recent pledge by the council’s head of finance to invest in ethically responsible ways.

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It was also revealed that Fife Council has £36m invested in Amazon, which has a depot in Fife and has come under criticism over workers’ rights.

The current market value of Fife Council’s pension fund is £2,311,176,000.

The world’s biggest ten arms firms, all of which the council currently invests in, are: BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Gruman, General Dynamics, EADS, Finmeccanica, L-3 Communications, United Technologies, and Raytheon.

General Dynamics Corporation, L-3, and Lockheed Martin Corporation have all previously been named in a ‘blacklist’ by a number of British banks and insurance companies over their links to landmines and cluster bombs.

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Mid Scotland and Fife Green MSP Mark Ruskell said the £2bn pension pot was “being built on suffering”.

“Fife Council pension scheme members will be horrified to learn that their future security is being built on suffering caused by wars and conflicts around the world.

“Many public pension funds are divesting from unethical investments, especially if they can secure better returns elsewhere and Fife should follow suit.”

Amazon, which represents the council’s fifth biggest investment, has previously come under criticism over staff working practices at the West Fife depot. It was also revealed in August that the firm paid just £15m in tax on European revenues of £19.5bn.

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North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie said the council should be using its shareholdings in Amazon to hold the firm to account over its taxes and paying the living wage.

“Fife Council should be using this investment to raise questions about Amazon as a workplace.

“An investment of over £35 million is not an insignificant sum of money and should at least allow the council to put some pressure on Amazon.

“The company should be paying the proper living wage and must pay a fair share of tax too.”

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Last December, some Amazon staff were found to be sleeping in tents near the Dunfermline facility to save money.

Fife Council refused to answer when asked if it had any plans to divest from the arms firms, but the local authority did issue a statement.

Head of Finance Keith O’Donnell said: “Our Superannuation and Pensions sub-committee works to a set of investment principles. These are in place to ensure investment managers consider the social, environmental and ethical policies of companies in which they invest.

“We are committed to a balance between maximising investment income and ethical investment which is why we employ Hermes Equity Ownership Services (HEOS). Their team help monitor our investments in companies and intervene where necessary with the aim of improving our long term corporate performance.

“We’ll continue to closely monitor our investments, making sure members of the pension scheme receive the best possible return while taking full account of our wider ethical responsibilities.”