£566m of council pension money invested in Yemen war arms firms

Council workers’ pension money totalling more than half a billion pounds has been invested by local councils in arms firms that have been linked to the war in Yemen.

Originally reported by The Guardian, it has been revealed that 43 pension funds directly hold shares worth £566m in five companies linked with the conflict: BAE Systems, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

The revelations were discovered through 100 freedom of information requests, which also found that the councils involved earned more than £18.5m in dividends though the investments in 2018.

In total, 10 local authorities held shares in the companies selling defence equipment or training to Saudi Arabia, including Lothian (Edinburgh; £85m investment), Tameside (Manchester; £79m investment) and West Yorkshire (£78.4m investment).

Furthermore, the councils holds “hundreds of millions of pounds” in shares in the arms firms through pooled investments, which they do not directly control.

Speaking to The Guardian, Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman, Andrew Smith said: “These aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet; the weapons these companies are producing have had a devastating impact.

“The fighter jets and bombs that are being used in Yemen have played a crucial role in creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

“Councils should not be profiteering from the companies that have made these weapons and have been so complicit in the destruction.”

A further 40 council pension funds reportedly hold “similar investments”, the values of which range from small sums to tens of millions of pounds.

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