Monday, January 29, 2007

Blood money in Darfur: Harvard divests, Fidelity invests

Source: United Human Rights Council, 10 pm local news had an alarming story about Fidelity Investments, the Boston mutual fund giant, and some of its overseas activities. According to the report, Fidelity still has about half a billion dollars invested in PetroChina and Sinopec -- two Chinese oil companies which are allegedly propping up the Sudan government by helping it export oil. The government in Khartoum and pro-government Arab militias are responsible for genocide/ethnic cleansing/massacres in Darfur and other parts of Sudan, according to human rights groups and the U.S. government.

Harvard made the decision nearly two years to divest from the Chinese oil companies with activities in Sudan. Fidelity did not. Its response to enquiries from the television station were quite cold: These investments were purely business decisions based on maximizing value for shareholders.

My response to this -- as a Fidelity investor who got started with many of Fidelity's international funds while I was still an employee at Harvard through a 403b retirement plan -- is that there is no justification for investing in companies that are contributing to genocide. It's a disgrace.

I tried to determine which Fidelity funds invest in PetroChina and Sinopec, but the Fidelity search engine seemed to leave out a lot of results, based on my comparison with the listing of Fidelity funds on this website that allegedly highlights the company's investments in the two Chinese oil companies.

I also drilled down in the prospectii and annual reports of several overseas funds that Fidelity operates, but these reports only list the top 10 holdings for each fund, and I did not see Sinopec or PetroChina listed.

My next step is to contact Fidelity directly and ask which funds have holdings in the two companies. Those funds will be sold from my portfolio; I will also ask Harvard to remove from the 403b plans it operates with Fidelity any funds which are investing in the Sudanese genocide.

Or should Harvard also divest from Fidelity?


Anonymous said...

In my opinion this could be called a disgrace, a word you used to describe Fidelity funds buying stocks in these Chinese oil companies. It would be against my conscience to do such a thing if I was involved in the company. Fidelity does make a formidable point though stating that it is their duty to generate the highest returns for their customers. It is their duty. Dont buy these funds

Anonymous said...

The attitude that shareholders are more important then people who live in the countries with the resources that generate the profits for them, is disgusting. Fidelity should be brought to its knees by divestment.

Anonymous said...

Why is Fidelity being singled out? As much as it is a disgrace to fund genocide there are hundreds of other public fund mgt firms investing in the very same companies. One of the most respected (for their low fees and good performance) is Vanguard. They (as of their semi-annual report dated July '06) held millions of shares worth billions of dollars in PetroChina. What responsibility do these firms have to investigate their political connections as they do their fundamentals and future earnings prospects?

I Lamont said...

To the third anonymous commenter:

Your words are spoken like a true Fidelity believer -- which I see you are (according to my referrer logs, is an IP address controlled by Fidelity).

Here's a question for you: Why do so many Fidelity employees such as yourself come to Harvard Extended to idly read what I have to say about Fidelity's investments in the Sundanese genocide, yet the email I sent to Fidelity via the secure message center, asking the company to identify which funds hold PetroChina/Sinopec stock, still remains unanswered after 10 days?

It must be an uncomfortable issue for Fidelity, if the company only dares to respond through an anonymous comment.

RandallJones said...


DO have a plan for stopping the United States in it s role in fuleing the violence in Africa.

In case you are not aware of it, here is some articles about this:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have to say something about this here... Although I do not take position with or against fidelity, I have a hard time finding a strong link between investing in Chinese oil companies and wether or not these companies have to do with the genocide. Fidelity's spokesman was very clear, they care about business, so let politicians care about politics!