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Controversial weapons Swiss National Bank still investing in arms makers

Cluster bombs are reviled for their indiscriminate effect and potential to kill and maim people if unexploded


The bank’s portfolio includes investments in manufacturers of controversial weapons like cluster bombs and mines despite pledging in 2013 to distance itself from such companies. It blames the discrepancy on specialist firms that handle its investments. 

According to German-language paper “NZZ am Sonntag”, the SNB holds CHF550 million ($565.5 million) worth of shares in US arms manufacturers that produce internationally proscribed weapons like cluster bombs and anti-personnel mines. For example, by the end of July, SNB held shares worth CHF37 million in Lockheed Martin - the world's largest arms company, which also manufactures anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions – and almost CHF27 million in Raytheon, a company that also sells cluster munitions. 

The SNB blamed specialist investment firms for the violation of its internal guidelines on responsible investment. According to a bank spokesperson, it is these firms that handle its investments and they often come to a different conclusion when choosing whether to invest in a company or not. The SNB also did not want to comment on why investments were made in specific weapons manufacturers but claimed that it had already excluded certain companies whose activities did not meet its investment criteria. 

Switzerland is among 117 countries that have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international treaty that prohibits the use, transfer and stockpile of cluster bombs.

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