26 Aug 2016

Police to make call on KiwiSaver investments - Minister

6:30 pm on 26 August 2016

It is up to the police to decide whether to investigate KiwiSaver providers who are investing in weapons manufacturers, says the Commerce Minister.

22082016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. Caucas run. Paul Goldsmith

Paul Goldsmith said he expected KiwiSaver providers to follow the law, but it was not his job to make sure they did. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

RNZ News last week revealed at least five of the nine default KiwiSaver providers have money tied up in companies making cluster bombs, landmines and nuclear weapons.

Official advice provided to minister Paul Goldsmith this afternoon sets out the laws that apply to KiwiSaver providers and their investments.

Read the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's briefing to the minister here (PDF, 1MB)

The papers state that knowingly investing in companies that make cluster bombs was illegal under a law passed in 2009.

In terms of nuclear weapons and land-mines, the law did not specifically talk about the investment of funds, but it did say that it was an offence to aid, abet or assist a person to manufacture or possess such weapons.

Mr Goldsmith said he expected KiwiSaver providers to follow the law, but it was not his job to make sure they did.

"It's not appropriate for a minister to make judgements about who is breaking the law or not, that's something that the relevant enforcement agency would have to work through and it's up to them to look into that if they think it's appropriate."

In a statement the police said they were making enquiries with other agencies to gather more information which they said would be assessed as appropriate in due course.

Mr Goldsmith said public pressure had led to some KiwiSaver providers reconsidering their investments.

"We've certainly seen over the past few days that they have been responding to public interest in this and a number of them have said they are going to be reviewing their policy."

Mr Goldsmith said people who were concerned about their investments should get in touch with their KiwiSaver providers.

He said the government had work underway to try to encourage New Zealanders to think about their KiwiSaver investments more often.

The Green Party said the government was out of touch with the public, who were horrified their KiwiSaver investments were doing harm around the world.

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