Missouri’s public retirement systems asked to divest of Russian investments

(The Center Square) – Missouri Republican Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick on Tuesday requested an emergency meeting of the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System’s (MOSERS) Board of Trustees to prevent the future purchase of Russian securities and discuss divestment of existing holdings.

As of last week, MOSERS held approximately $13 million in Russian securities within funds worth more than $1 billion as part of its Global Emerging Markets allocation, according to a media release from Fitzpatrick’s office. The request is similar to actions by other states to sanction the Russian government after last week’s military invasion of Ukraine:

-In California, Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom urged the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and the University of California retirement system to immediately restrict Russian access to California’s capital and investments. According to Newsom’s request, the retirement systems hold a combined $970 billion in assets – equivalent to 60% of Russia’s entire 2021 gross domestic product.

-In Colorado, the Public Employees’ Retirement Association is withdrawing $7.2 million held in a Russian bank.

-In North Carolina, Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all state agencies and departments to review existing state contracts and terminate any agreements benefitting Russia.

“Vladimir Putin is a madman and it’s time for the world to cut him off,” Fitzpatrick said in a media release announcing the request for the emergency meeting. “In Missouri, that starts with MOSERS. When he is isolated and alone, Ukrainians and Russians will have their countries back. Missouri stands with the Ukrainian people.”

According to Missouri’s Joint Committee on Public Employee Retirement, there are 15 statewide employee pension plans. In the organization’s 2022 annual report on 2020 pension data, the value of Missouri’s public pension plans was $81.89 billion. The 2020 data showed the state contributed $436 million to MOSERS while 45,999 employees contributed $35 million. The market value of MOSERS assets was $7.9 billion in 2020. Its liabilities were $14.2 billion, according to the report.

“I’m calling on all other Missouri pension plans to follow suit in ensuring no public funds are used to help prop up the Russian economy as long as these atrocities continue,” Fitzpatrick said.

Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson ordered the capitol dome in Jefferson City to be lighted blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian national flag, from Tuesday through Friday.

Featured photo courtesy of Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick | flickr. 

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