State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick wants Missouri to join other states that are dumping of Russian investments from pension funds.
In a Tuesday press release, Fitzpatrick called for an emergency meeting of the board of directors of the Missouri State Employees Retirement System (MOSERS) to vote to block future purchases of Russian securities and consider how to dispose of existing assets.
Hours later, the board announced a special meeting on Thursday afternoon to discuss Fitzpatrick’s request, spokeswoman Candy Smith wrote to The Independent.
By law, Fitzpatrick is one of 11 members of the MOSERS board of directors. The next regular MOSERS Board of Directors is scheduled for April 22.
In a statement released by his office, Fitzpatrick said MOSERS held $13 million in Russian securities in funds totaling more than $1 billion allocated to investments in global markets. It was based on Friday values, spokeswoman Mary Compton wrote in a text message.
As of this morning, Smith wrote, the value of MOSERS’ holdings was $9 million “of indirect exposure to Russia within MOSERS’ global investment funds.”
MOSERS has a portfolio of over $13.3 billion in assets, Smith wrote. the financial report for the financial year 2021 listed $5 million in Russian ruble-listed securities and $116,587 in fixed-income assets.
“Vladimir Putin is a madman and it’s time the world cut him off,” Fitzpatrick said in a prepared statement. “In Missouri, it starts with MOSERS. When he is isolated and alone, Ukrainians and Russians will return to their country. Missouri stands with the Ukrainian people.
Fitzpatrick’s call for divestment was supported by state Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence. On Tuesday, he tabled a bill requiring all state and local government agencies, including pension systems, to divest their investments in Russia and Russian businesses.
HAPPENS NOW: Senate Democratic Leader John Rizzo introduced Senate Bill 1239 to order state and local government entities in Missouri, including their pension systems, to immediately divest from Russia and the Russian companies. #WeStandWithUkraine #moleg pic.twitter.com/ewSj6uIuTk
— Senate Democrats (@MoSenDems) March 1, 2022
“As long as the tyrant Putin is in power, Missouri should cut financial ties to his murderous regime,” Rizzo said in a statement shared with The Independent. “In 2017, a Democratic bill was introduced to turn over Missouri assets to Russia, and I’m glad there is now bipartisan interest in this effort.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, several states took steps to eliminate their Russian-linked holdings.
The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System plans to divest $36 million in Russian assets, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
The California Legislature is preparing a bill requiring the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers Retirement System to eliminate investments in Russian securities, the The Los Angeles Times reported.
The CalPERS fund is the country’s largest public pension fund, with $485 billion in assets, with investments in listed Russian companies totaling $900 million to $1.1 billion at any one time, the agency said. Fund spokeswoman Megan White told The Times.
Connecticut Treasurer Shawn Wooden orders that state’s pension funds to sell Russian assets, Reuters reported. Funds in Georgia, Rhode Island and Colorado, among others, are reviewing holdings to do the same, S&P Global published.
In his press release, Fitzpatrick also called on other state pension funds “to follow suit by ensuring that no public funds are used to help support the Russian economy while these atrocities continue. “.
The three largest state-run funds outside of MOSERS are the Local Government Employees Retirement System, or LAGERS, the Public School and Education Employee Retirement System, or PSRS/PEERS, and the Missouri Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol Employees’ Retirement System, or MPERS.
LAGERS has $8.3 million in Russian securities in its $10.3 billion asset portfolio, Elizabeth Althoff, legislative and communications coordinator, wrote in an email. She does not hold any titles in federally sanctioned companies, she wrote.
The next meeting of the LAGERS Board of Directors is scheduled for March 25.
“At this time, the LAGERS Board has made no decision to hold a special Board meeting regarding the Russia divestment, but continues to monitor developments,” Althoff wrote.
The PSRS/PEERS fund, the state’s largest with $57.9 billion in assets, has a total exposure of about $138.9 million in Russian securities, communications director Susan Wood wrote. in an email.
“We are in the process of planning a special board meeting,” Wood wrote.
The MPERS fund held $3.1 billion in assets as of June 30, the last day of the 2021 financial year. Its annual report made no reference to Russian investments or ruble-denominated assets. The next board meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 29.
MPERS did not respond to inquiries from The Independent on Tuesday.
This story has been updated since it was first published.