Colorado PERA to divest $7.2 million from Russian bank

Spokesperson says pension has about $8M invested in Russian companies
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Posted at 4:50 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 22:21:16-05

DENVER – Colorado’s state pension fund will divest $7.2 million from a Russian bank as part of federal sanctions on Russia President Joe Biden announced this week, according to a spokesperson for the Public Employees’ Retirement Association.

The PERA fund has about $8 million invested in Russian companies Sberbank, OGK-2, Gazprom, Mosenergo, and Rosneft Oil out of a little more than $61 billion in its portfolio, spokesperson Patrick von Keyserling said Friday afternoon. The vast bulk of that money is invested in the state-owned Sberbank, which is Russia’s largest lender. The Denver Post first reported news of the divestment Friday.

“U.S. sanctions remain fluid and include a combination of freezing assets, divesting of assets and not investing additional funds in Russian assets,” von Keyserling said. “PERA is reviewing and preparing to implement the federal mandates within the required time specifications.”

The White House said Thursday Sberbank holds around a third of the Russian banking sector’s assets and is “systemically critical to the Russian financial system.”

On Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order to have state agencies review state contracts to find out if any are tied to any Russian state-owned companies and to terminate those contracts if they exist.

He said in a news conference Friday the administration had yet to find any but that the search continued. The state Senate passed a resolution condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine Friday which will be passed by the House on Monday.

Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, said there might be limited examples, including PERA and local financial institutions, where bundled assets tied to Russia would need to be divested.

“Keep in mind, the Russian banks are the Russian government. It’s a totally different system,” he said. “They’re of state control of the economy, and so anything we can do to ratchet up the economic pain and stringent sanctions, Colorado needs to do its part.”