Ukraine-Russia conflict: Holyrood’s management body calls for all Russian holdings in MSP pension fund to be divested

Holyrood’s management body has called for all Russian holdings in the MSP pension fund to be divested “with immediate effect”.

The Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme (SPPS) has around £300,000 reportedly invested in Sberbank, Russia's largest financial institution.

The disclosure was made over the weekend following a Freedom of Information request by the Ferret, an online investigative journalism group.

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The cross-party Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) has now called for urgent action.

Writing on behalf of the body, Holyrood’s Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone asked for representations to be made to the scheme’s fund manager, Edinburgh-based Baillie Gifford.

Pauline McNeill MSP, chair of the scheme trustees, has now written to Baillie Gifford on behalf of all members.

She wrote: “With the horrifying situation unfolding in Ukraine, the fund trustees are deeply concerned that the Baillie Gifford’s managed pension fund has holdings in the state-owned Russian bank Sberbank.

“I recognise entirely the SPPS is one of many investors in the managed pension fund and, as a pooled fund, we the trustees cannot direct individual investments.

"I am nevertheless writing to you in the strongest possible terms to request that Baillie Gifford divests immediately from Sberbank and all other Russian companies.

“Similarly, I would ask that any such holdings in our other investment vehicles, the diversified growth fund and global stewardship fund, be divested as a matter of urgency.

“The appalling events in Ukraine make it incumbent upon all of us to stand against aggression and unlawful military action in any way we can.

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"Exerting economic pressure upon Russian financial institutions by divesting our pension holdings is an important step.

“I should be grateful also if you could advise me, as a matter of urgency, of Baillie Gifford’s investment strategy – in the immediate short to medium term – with regard to Russian investment.

“This information will enable the fund trustees to make an informed decision about its future investment strategy for the SPPS.”

Green MSP Ross Greer previously lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for divestment.

He said: “I cannot fathom why the Scottish Parliament Pension Fund has holdings in Sberbank in the first place.

"But, in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine it is clearly inappropriate for that to remain the case.”

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