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Ethical business Swiss National Bank to get rid of dodgy shares

Land mines are internationally banned weapons

(Keystone)

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is to divest itself of shares in companies involved in “ethically dubious” business, the bank announced on Friday, without saying which particular enterprises might be affected.

The governing board described the enterprises concerned as those which “produce internationally outlawed weapons, massively violate fundamental human rights or are responsible for systematic serious environmental damage,” the Swiss News Agency reported.

The SNB has been an important investor on the shares market since 2011, when it set a ceiling to the euro-franc exchange rate. By the end of September the bank held share certificates worth CHF70 billion ($77 billion) – equivalent to 16 per cent of its portfolio.

The bank does not hold shares in medium and large banks, in order to avoid conflicts of interest. The question of whether it should exclude other types of shares from its holdings has been discussed regularly, the bank said in its position paper.

It did not say how the new policy would be implemented, but as far as weapons manufacturers are concerned, it will probably follow existing international conventions.  

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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