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Putin, Sanctions and Russian Billionaires

This week the New Zealand Parliament passed the Russian Sanctions Bill in direct response to the war in #Ukraine. For me the Bill highlighted three things – the first is that no matter our geographic location in the world as a global citizen we must always act when those who wish harm on others wage war against the innocent. It says to me that the long-standing convention of New Zealand’s role in pushing back against war is still very much alive and well. The second thing it highlighted for me is just how much money is tied up in terms of New Zealand super funds investing into Russian backed or owned business and the amount of capital that very wealthy Russian Oligarchs have tied up in New Zealand.

New Zealand investment funds including KiwiSaver, ACC and the NZ Super Fund had more than $100 million invested in Russian government bonds and companies. Before the invasion of Ukraine, the NZ Super Fund’s Russian investments were listed on its website as being worth just under $25m. All of those investments should be divested without delay and to be honest as a nation we need to take a hard look at exactly what these super funds are investing in from those companies and sectors that are having a detrimental impact on the climate right through to those who have children working in their supply chains and onto the mistreatment of adult workers. Then there are the millions of dollars in property assets that in country and owned by the Oligarchs or rich Russians. Its time those were frozen. The third thing that the passing of the Russian Sanctions Bill highlighted for me is the additional work we need to do when it comes to what a modern-day sanctions framework looks for when it comes to Aoteaora. This will not be the first or last war requiring sanctions but the complexities of geopolitical positioning and the tight interconnectivity between global financial institutions tells me that much more needs to be done. This is of course one of the ticket items that everyone could no doubt agree on – no matter the tone or colour of the flag they fly for politics.

Opinion: Matthew Tukaki


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