Tuesday 9 May 2023

Oklahoma BANS 13 banks from doing business after they were found to engage in energy boycotts

 Oklahoma banned 13 major financial institutions from doing business with the state after a review found that the banks engaged in energy boycotts.

State Treasurer Todd Russ announced the measure on May 3, which effectively blocked the banks from managing billions of dollars in Oklahoma pensions, investments and other state entities. His decision represents one of the most aggressive actions any state has taken against banks pursuing so-called woke environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives.

The 13 financial entities barred by the Sooner State from doing business were as follows:

  1. BlackRock
  2. Wells Fargo
  3. JPMorgan Chase
  4. Bank of America
  5. State Street
  6. Grosvenor Capital Management
  7. Lexington Partners
  8. FirstMark Fund Partners
  9. Touchstone VC Global Partners
  10. WCM Investment Management
  11. William Blair
  12. Actis
  13. Climate First Bank

“The energy sector is crucial to Oklahoma’s economy, providing jobs for our residents and helping drive economic growth,” Russ said in a statement. “It is essential for us to work with financial institutions that are focused on free-market principles and not beholden to social goals that override their fiduciary duties.

The Sooner State’s treasurer announced the ban three months after he sent a letter and questionnaire to dozens of banks and financial institutions. Russ’ Feb. 1 letter inquired about the institutions’ climate and energy investment policies.  

Under a 2022 law passed by the Oklahoma Legislature, Russ – in his capacity as state treasurer – is mandated to probe the investment policies of banks the state does business with. He is also mandated to compile a list of companies determined to be engaged in a boycott of the energy sector.

According to the state treasurer’s office, it received almost 160 responses that helped form the May 3 decision. Companies may be added to or removed from the state’s list in the coming months, however.

Woke banks question their inclusion in the list

State Financial Officers Foundation CEO Derek Kreifels lauded Russ’ announcement as “a significant step … in guarding his state’s financial security against ESG advocates.” He added that the state treasurer joined state financial officers across the nation in pushing back against ESG and “ensuring that American families’ savings are invested according to their values and not ESG extremists.”

Two of the big banks included in Russ’ list questioned why they were included. They denied backing woke ESG initiatives and touted their supposed investments in Oklahoma’s energy sector.

A representative for JPMorgan called the state treasurer’s decision “baseless,” adding: “Between 2021 and 2022 we provided over $2 billion in financing and other services to 40 Oklahoma companies in the oil and gas space.”

“Our business practices are not in conflict with this anti-free market decision, and we look forward to continuing to serve customers and communities in Oklahoma.”

Meanwhile, a BlackRock spokesperson bragged that the company “is a leading investor in the Oklahoma energy sector.” The spokesperson told Fox Business: “On behalf of our clients, we have invested over $15 billion in public energy companies based in Oklahoma and approximately $320 billion in public energy companies globally, including investments in both traditional energy sectors like oil and gas and in renewables.”

“BlackRock offers our clients the choices they need to help them achieve their investment objectives for low fees. We believe lists like these ultimately raise costs for Oklahoma taxpayers and reduce returns for firefighters, teachers and state employees seeking to retire with dignity. They also undermine free-market competition and choice for investors.”

In April, BlackRock disclosed that it has a staggering $9.1 trillion in assets under management. Back in February, Russ noted that BlackRock manages more than 60 percent of the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System.

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