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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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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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Kjell Kristian Dørum

Disclaimer


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)

Keywords


corporate ethics and compliance, investment, Norway, Northern Europe, Europe