Money from British Gas energy company staff pensions was used to buy shares in Israeli spyware developer NSO Group, which was responsible for hacking into tens of thousands of people’s devices over the years. years, revealed a report.
According to FinancialTimes journal, British Gas’s retirement investment fund and parent company – Centrica – was a major contributor to a stake in NSO Group in 2019.
This contribution amounted to 1 billion euros, Centrica’s fund also allocated the pension wealth to a private equity fund raised by another company named Novalpina Capital, which holds a 70% stake in NSO Group. .
The newspaper quotes two people with knowledge of the matter as saying Centrica’s Combined Common Investment Fund sits on a board of Novalpina’s largest investors, each of whom contributes at least tens of millions of euros.
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The NSO Group has been infamous over the past few years due to its hacking scandals, particularly in July last year when University of Toronto internet watchdog Citizen Lab revealed the misuse of Pegasus spyware by its client governments by hacking approximately 50,000 phones and devices belonging to journalists, human rights activists and political critics around the world.
British Gas staff pensions paid to a company implicated in such scandals – particularly to a US blacklisted company – are seen as directly linked to human rights abuses and the misuse of spyware by various governments.
This is not the first time that pension money has been used to buy shares in such companies, Amnesty International in October addressing a number of other pension funds for contributing to Novalpina’s fund. These companies included two American ones, the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System and the $81 billion Alaska Permanent Fund, and two English local governments, the East Riding Pension Fund and the South Yorkshire Pensions Authority.
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