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NYPD Pension Fund Targets Putin, Plans to Divest Over $42M in Russian Financial Assets

Published: March 2, 2022
A member of the NYPD wearing a 'back the blue' face mask stands between supporters of former President Donald Trump and counter protestors on January 6, 2022 in New York City. The NYPD pension fund has announced that it intends to divest $42-million in Russian-issued securities following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Image: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Following numerous state and federal sanctions aimed at Vladimir Putin after his invasion of Ukraine the New York City Police Pension fund says it will divest $42.2 million of its securities investments issued by Russian companies. 

“The fund’s trustees – which include Mayor Eric Adams, city Comptroller Brad Lander and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell – voted Tuesday directing the comptroller to divest $42.2 million following a review of its public equity and fixed income investments in Russian businesses,” the New York Post reported. 

In a resolution the trustees said that they’re “concerned over the Russian federation’s unprovoked invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine,” and that “The United States government has identified the financial institutions that finance the Putin regime, as well as state-owned Russian companies that provide key services crucial to the Kremlin and the Russian military, and is in the process of identifying companies owned by Russian elites who benefit from their connections with the Kremlin.”

In a statement New York City Mayor, Eric Adams said, “Freedom cannot be denied, here or anywhere. That’s why I stand in support of efforts to divest the city’s pension funds from Russian assets in light of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine — an unprovoked and unjustified war,” adding that, “This is not about penalising the Russian people, but about holding President Putin and his government accountable for violating a nation’s sovereignty and inflicting widespread suffering on its people.”

The fund is one of the largest held by any municipality in the U.S. and has 85,000 active members and retirees that consists of “36,000 active and 43,000 retired members of the NYPD,” the New York Post reported. 

“In all pension fund matters, we have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the fund’s members. This divestment was necessary in order to protect those interests,” said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch who is also a trustee.

Thomas DiNapoli, the state comptroller, is also calling for the state’s Common Retirement Fund to review some $110.8 million in existing investments in Russian assets while New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued an executive order on Sunday calling for an end to “state investments and purchases that financially benefit Russia, for as long as the federal government’s economic sanctions continue.”

“Russia has chosen to attack democracy and we will stand with Ukraine as we condemn these atrocities,” Governor Hochul said. “Our state will not permit its own investment activity, whether directly or indirectly, to aid Russia as it commits these human rights violations.”

New York State is home to the largest Ukrainian population in the United States. In a statement Hochul said, “Just as the Statue of Liberty stands tall in our harbor, New York stands ready to welcome Ukrainian refugees. We remain engaged with the Biden Administration and we will be prepared to accept and support those who seek shelter in our state.”