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Maryland divests from company that invests in Iran

NEW YORK (JTA) — Maryland divested $38.3 million from the British company Royal Dutch Shell for investing in Iran’s petroleum industry.

The state’s pensions and investments board also notified 13 other companies that their Iran and Sudan investments are being monitored, according to the Baltimore Jewish Times.

In 2008, the Maryland General Assembly voted to eliminate any company from its economic portfolio that invests more than $20 million annually in Iranian petroleum following a similar law passed by Maryland regarding Sudan. The state governments of Missouri, New York and Ohio have enacted similar laws.

Maryland companies have $280 million invested in economic operations in Iran and Sudan, and wider-scale divestments have been avoided largely to preserve the health of Maryland’s retirement and pension system,  the Baltimore weekly reported.

The system, which provides 350,000 Maryland state employees with benefits for death, disability and retirement, was valued at $31.5 billion in September.

“For example, in the case of the Russian company Gazprom, the board determined that based on the analysis done, [divestment] would not fit with the board’s fiduciary responsibility because this represents 40 percent of the investments from Russia," Dean Kenderdine, head of the State of Maryland Retirement and Pension System, told the Baltimore paper. "Obviously we had to look at the impact on the fund as a whole.”

The issue of divestment in Maryland, which lawmakers generally bring up at least every six months, will be discussed again in February.
 

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