Rhode Island Sudan Divestment Bill Headed for Governor's Desk

June 18, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Rhode Island State Legislature has given unanimous support to a bill requiring state pension fund managers to divest investments in Sudan-linked companies via a multi-stage procedure.

According to a  news release from the Legislature, the bill mandates that the state’s Investment Commission – which manages the state pension fund – first identify companies supporting the Sudanese government’s campaign of genocide.

The companies would be designated as those known to supply goods or services to the Sudanese government and provide minimal benefit to ordinary Sudanese citizens. The bill then requires the state to notify companies that they’ve been identified as offenders and pull Rhode Island’s investments in those companies in two stages: 50% of its total investment in complicit companies after nine months and the rest after 15 months.

The news release said investments would not be pulled from any company that proves it is not complicit in supporting the genocide.

Sponsored by Representative Joseph S. Almeida and Senator Rhoda E. Perry, the bill passed its final legislative hurdle last week with a unanimous House and Senate vote.

“We recognize that the amount of money Rhode Island has invested in Sudan isn’t huge. But if a single cent of our money is going toward the brutal campaign being carried out in Darfur, it’s too much. We want to make sure none of our money is being used to support the genocide, and we hope that other larger investors listen to us and do the same,” said Almeida, in the news release.

When the legislation was introduced in January, General Treasurer Frank T. Caprio, who has strongly supported the legislation, had already identified $2 million that Rhode Island had invested in two companies that have been tied to the genocide:

  • Petronus, a major player in the Sudanese oil industry with downstream fuel sales that include refueling Sudanese government aircraft which are used to bomb villages in Darfur. Rhode Island still has about $1 million invested in Petronus. ; and
  • Rolls Royce, which has a history of selling oil engineering equipment to Sudan. Since that time, Rolls Royce announced it would pull out of Sudan in response to the genocide and the international backlash against it.

The Rhode Island bill is now on its way to the desk of Governor Donald Carcieri who is expected to sign it.   The text of the bill is here .

Thirteen other states have passed legislation requiring divestment from Sudan