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U4 Practitioner Experience Note

Investigating the ethics of investments

An interview with Kjell Kristian Dørum on the work of the Norwegian Council on Ethics

Norway invests its petroleum revenue surplus in the international financial market through its Government Pension Fund Global, which held a portfolio of about 1.2 trillion euro in April 2022. A Council on Ethics monitors whether companies in which the Fund invests meet ethical standards of the Norwegian government. If a company is found to be persistently corrupt, it is put under observation or excluded until it can demonstrate that corruption risks have been adequately addressed. The Council’s engagement can therefore influence corporate behaviour worldwide. U4’s Sofie Arjon Schütte interviewed Kjell Kristian Dørum, chief advisor on corruption in the Council on Ethics, about the Council’s work.

22 May 2022
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Investigating the ethics of investments

Main points

  • The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global had about 1.2 trillion euro invested in 9,300 companies in 70 countries as of April 2022. These investments help reduce the impact of oil price volatility and ensure that future generations of Norwegians will benefit from surplus revenue generated by the country’s petroleum resources. Because of the Fund’s large size, its investments can influence corporate behaviour worldwide.
  • The Fund’s investments follow ethical guidelines on the types of commodities that companies may produce and the behavioural principles that they must adhere to. A Council on Ethics monitors the companies and will recommend observing a firm more closely or excluding it from investment if a systemic breach of the principles is detected and is deemed likely to recur. This may include, for example, repeated instances of bribery.
  • In gathering data, the Council draws on reporting from 80,000 media outlets and investigative journalism sources, as well as official court proceedings. It engages directly with the companies when further investigation of public reports is required.
  • The corruption criterion in the Fund’s ethical guidelines has recently been widened, and the Council on Ethics is expanding its capacity to investigate financial crimes such as money laundering and tax offences.

Cite this publication

Dørum, K.; Schütte, S.; (2022) Investigating the ethics of investments. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Practitioner Experience Note 2022:1)

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About the authors

Kjell Kristian Dørum

Kjell Kristian Dørum is chief advisor on corruption in the Council on Ethics for the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, where he has been employed since 2017. He is responsible for monitoring the companies in the Fund’s portfolio for possible violations of the corruption criterion in the ethical guidelines of the Fund. He also carries out research relating to corruption allegations and engages in dialogue with companies in this regard, as well as drafting recommendations and reports on the observation and exclusion of companies.

Dr. Sofie Arjon Schütte leads U4’s thematic work on the justice sector, including specialised institutions like anti-corruption agencies and courts. Previously, she worked for the Partnership for Governance Reform in Indonesia and the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission and has conducted workshops and short-term assignments on corruption in more than 15 countries. She is editor of the series of U4 publications on anti-corruption courts around the world.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)