Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. has called on the country's two largest public pension funds--the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS)--to "honor the state law" that requires them to divest from companies doing business in Iran.
"CalPERS and CalSTRS need to honor the state law requiring them to divest from companies doing business in Iran," Brown said. "It's time for our public pension funds to show some leadership and stop supporting companies that do business with a tyrannical regime."
The California Public Divest from Iran Act was signed into law in October 2007 after the state Senate and Assembly passed the bill by unanimous vote. The law requires CalPERS and CalSTRS to annually report holdings in companies doing business in the defense, nuclear, petroleum, and natural gas industries in Iran and to divest from any company that fails to take substantial action to cease or limit operations in Iran.
According to Brown, both CalPERS and CalSTRS filed annual reports at the end of 2009, but the reports failed to:
- Explain whether investments in companies with ties to Iran have been reduced;
- Describe when the funds anticipate fully divesting from these companies;
- Summarize investments transferred to funds that exclude these companies; and
- Calculate divestment costs or losses.
The U.S. Department of State's "Country Reports on Terrorism 2008" states that Iran remains "the most significant state sponsor of terrorism."
Brown's office said that CalPERS is the largest public pension fund in the nation with more than 1.6 million members and more than $200 billion in assets. CalSTRS is the largest teachers' retirement fund in the country with 833,000 members and more than $130 billion in assets.