October 15, 2018
Follow the money: Who profits at the expense of who and what?
- Below - article: “'Deeply concerning': Canada pension fund invests in US immigration detention firms. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has $5.9m of stock in firms profiting from Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ Mexico border policy”
Thanks for this article (see below) that is “following the money” to get at “who” are profiting from investments –local/ national/ globally- in products and activities that can and do cause serious environmental harms and human rights violations, through to harms and death to humans and many other life forms.
Speaking of “deeply concerning” …
Have many or any politicians “expressed alarm” that investors –pension funds, equity funds, private investors, endowments, trust, etc. – are investing in and make profits from the multiple and overlapping war and armaments industries?; from oil, gas, mining and other often-times harmful and damaging extraction industries?; from exploitative and violent garment and shoe industries and producers around the world?; from large-scale, for export food producers that are abusing human rights, the environment and people’s land and territorial rights?; etc.
Keep on following the money – that is where exposure and truth is need, then accountability and justice for harms and abuses, then serious political, economic and legal reforms.
'Deeply concerning': Canada pension fund invests in US immigration detention firms. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has $5.9m of stock in firms profiting from Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ Mexico border policy
This story is co-published with the Documented news website and newsletter
Max Siegelbaum of Documented, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/12/canada-pension-fund-invests-in-us-immigration-detention-firms?fbclid=IwAR120Y1UDVYjZMW_iLgrKp-yvONzxGh_UoFeg2LSSvepcDsK4RSaypvrgrU
Canadian politicians have expressed alarm that one of Canada’s biggest pension investment funds has increased holdings in two private US companies that run American prisons and incarcerate the majority of detained immigrants.
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which manages $366.6bn in pension funds on behalf of some 20 million Canadian retirees, holds US$5.9m of stock in Geo Group and CoreCivic, according to its latest US Security and Exchange Commission filings.
The move to increase holdings comes despite criticisms from Canadian politicians about US detention policies and following international outcry over the US “zero-tolerance” crackdown this summer on the US-Mexico border that led to children being separated from families.
Between August 2017 and 2018, the CPPIB grew its investment in Geo Group almost 13-fold to 153,500 shares worth $4.2m, according to filings from August 2018.
CPPIB said the holdings were a tiny proportion of their fund, and were from pooled indirect investments.
However, Charlie Angus, a member of parliament for Canada’s New Democratic party, said: “This is deeply concerning to learn … There’s a corporate ethical lens that needs to apply.”
Canadian senator Kim Pate of the Independent Senators Group said: “Canadian taxpayers should not be inadvertently complicit in feeding the development of privatized for-profit prisons.”
The increase in Geo Group shares was from the 12,000 shares held a year previous, according to August 2017 filings. During the same period, the pension fund grew its investment in America’s second biggest private prison company, CoreCivic, to 73,700 shares from 33,000 shares, worth around $1.7m.
Canadian justice and democracy advocates also questioned the ethics of acquiring and growing the holdings. About 70% of the immigrants the US government detains are held in facilities run by CoreCivic or GEO Group, according to 2017 statistics obtained by the National Immigrant Justice Center.
Catherine Latimer, the head of the John Howard Society of Canada, a penal and justice reform advocacy group, said: “Our experience, with the research we’ve done on private prisons, indicates it’s not the type of social investment we would like to see Canada support.”
Duff Conacher, the cofounder of the Canadian government watchdog group Democracy Watch, said of the investments: “I don’t think most Canadians would agree with them.”
CPPIB defended the holdings. A CPPIB spokesperson said: “Our passive programs replicate broad-based stock market indexes which show investments in this sector, amounting to 0.001% of our $366B fund.
“CPPIB’s objective is to seek a maximum rate of return without undue risk of loss. This singular goal means CPPIB does not screen out individual investments based on social, religious, economic or political criteria.”
CPPIB is a state-owned agency which operates independently of government, though is ultimately accountable to Canada’s parliament. Despite its stated environmental, social and governance investment policy, CPPIB remains invested in some companies that funds in the US and elsewhere have pulled out of.
According to SEC filings, CPPIB holds a $186m investment in ExxonMobil, a $202m investment in the tobacco giant Philip Morris International, $18.7m in the defense contractor General Dynamics and $36.8m in another defense contractor, Raytheon.
“Quite frankly, if they’re going to be investing in private prisons, weapons manufacturers and tobacco companies, why aren’t they investing in narco gangs?” Charlie Angus of Canada’s New Democratic party, added.
The Trump administration’s policies have created a positive outlook for both US private detention companies. Corporate executives for both companies told investors and analysts on conference calls that they are expecting federal contracts for housing immigrant detainees to continue to grow.
Financial analysts from US investment banks and firms agree they have a positive growth outlook. “We believe an increased reliance on private prisons will likely be required to handle the inflow of detainees owing to federal prison populations that are at 120% of designed capacity,” wrote one JP Morgan analyst in a report about GEO Group. Both companies provide a favorable dividend yield of about 7%, which means each investor receives a steady 7% return of their investment.
Additional reporting by Leyland Cecco in Toronto
• This article is co-published with Documented, a news website/daily newsletter that covers immigration news in New York city and beyond.
Why Hondurans and Guatemalans Flee North?
The U.S. and Canadian governments, the U.S. military, and North American businesses and investors (hydro-electric dams, mining, African palm, tourism, cattle, fruit, etc.) maintain profitable relations with corrupt, repressive governments in Honduras and Guatemala, turning a blind eye to and benefitting from repression, environmental devastation, human rights violations, corruption and impunity. Once in a while, the mainstream media reports on the plight of tens of thousands of Guatemalans and Hondurans fleeing, year afiter year, decade after decade, gnoring why they flee.
U.S. and Canadian problems
Keep on sending copies of this information, and your own letters, to families, friends and networks, to your politicians and media, to your pension and investment funds, asking: Why our governments, companies and investment firms benefit from and turn a blind eye to the poverty, repression and violence, and environmental and health harms in places like Guatemala and Honduras?
Rights Action (U.S. & Canada)
Rights Action funds community human rights, environmental and development organizations in Guatemala and Honduras. We expose and work to hold accountable the U.S. and Canadian governments, companies and investors, international actors (World Bank, etc.) that cause and profit from the repression, environmental harms and human rights violations.
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