The Norwegian Government’s Pension Fund (commonly referred to as the Oil Fund) is making money from holdings in eight companies that trade illegally in phosphate from the Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, Norwatch revealed yesterday. Not one country has recognised the annexation to date.
The exploitation of natural resources from an occupied country has been banned by the UN, and is in direct contravention of international law.
Whilst other Scandinavian investors have already pulled out, the Norwegian fund still owns stocks and bonds currently valued at over 2.4 billion kroner. The investments were made despite advice to the contrary from the Oil Fund’s own ethical council.
Elisabeth Rasmusson, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s secretary general, thinks that Norwatch’s discovery is bad news for Norway as a peace nation, and expects the Oil Fund to follow suit.
“We cannot allow ourselves to earn money on such a deal. The companies are profiting at the expense of the refugees,” she tells NRK.
Norwatch has estimated the value of last year’s phosphate stones bought in by the companies to be in the region of 4.5 billion kroner.
Neither Gro Nystuen – head of the Oil Fund’s ethical council – nor the Department of Finance wished to make any comment.
The Foreigner (Norway) 07/10/2009