Norway’s oil fund drops FMC Corp, Potash Corp after accusations of “serious ethical violations”

US company FMC Corporation and Canada’s Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan have been dropped from the investment universe of Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) – the so-called ‘oil’ fund that is Europe’s biggest equity investor – after the Norwegian Ministry of Finance Council on Ethics found the two had purchased phosphates mined in Western Sahara by a Moroccan supplier.

This territory is under Moroccan control, but is not recognised internationally as having its own administration. Under legal advice obtained by the United Nations in 2002 relating to territories without self-administration, any mineral resources extracted must benefit the local population. This is not the case according to the Council on Ethics, which is why it recommended exclusion of the two companies.

GPFG, which is managed by Norgest Bank Investment Management (NBIM), and tasked with investing profits from Norway’s oil and gas sector, held shares valued at about NOK300m (€39m) in FMC Corp, and NOK1.57bn (€203m) in Potash at the end of 2010.

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