Here’s a good one. Fidelity Investments, a mutual funds outfit headquartered in Boston, was recently praised for divesting itself of stocks in companies that are either accused or guilty of human rights violations and have ties to the regime in Khartoum. In a panic, it called a press conference to reassure its clients that it hadn’t suddenly developed a social conscience.
Fidelity Investments, which has long sought to distance its investment choices from political questions, said yesterday its sharp reductions of holdings in oil companies targeted by human-rights activists over their ties to Sudan’s rulers were not a coordinated corporate response to the criticism.
Rather, said Anne Crowley, a spokeswoman for the Boston mutual-fund giant, the sales were decided by the managers of individual Fidelity funds. Each “works to take into account factors that could have an appreciable impact on the potential return of the stock in the short term or the long term,” Crowley said. “Fidelity doesn’t tell fund managers how or when to buy or sell any given stock,” she said.
Those “account factors”, Crowley insisted, did NOT include irrelevant matters such as whether or not the corporations they invested in bankrolled genocide, torture, and assassination – although she didn’t use those words, of course.
But critics weren’t buying it.