A conflict of interests: when foundations invest in arms and tobacco

Laura Starita and Timothy Ogden

How much good must a foundation do in order to justify investments in companies whose products cause harm? Take the Rockefeller Foundation, which invests some of its assets with Cerberus Capital Management, an American private equity firm that controls the gun manufacturer Remington. How many lives do the foundation’s programmes have to save in order to rationalize how the money was generated?

That may seem like a crass question, and it is unfair to single out the Rockefeller Foundation. It is not the only large philanthropy which invests in companies that manufacture weapons or in industries that are under scrutiny.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2016 Audited Financial Statement.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has held stock in Airbus, BAE Systems, and United Technologies, according to the 2015 IRS 990 forms filed for the Trust which holds its endowment.

 
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