Legislation: In 2008, the District of Columbia passed Law 17-337, or the “Prohibition of the Investment of Public Funds in Certain Companies Doing Business with the Government of Iran and Sudan Divestment Conformity Act of 2008.” The law requires the District of Columbia Retirement Board to identify its holdings in companies that are active in Iran. The fund must contact these companies and request that they clarify or cease their operations. According to the act, companies that do not cease their activities after an eight month period are to be divested. The act will expire if the Congress or President states that Iran is no longer developing nuclear weapons or sponsoring terror, if the United States revokes all sanctions against Iran, or if the Congress or President declares that the act infringes on federal power (1).
Effect: To date the District of Columbia does not appear to have divested any public funds as a result of the act. As of January 16, 2015, three petroleum companies are on the Retirement Board’s scrutinized list (2). The board has also requested on multiple occasions that fund managers divest their indirect holdings in scrutinized companies; fund managers have not thus far complied with this request (3).
Of note: The Retirement Board scrutinized Gazprom in 2013 but found that the Russian petroleum firm neither operated in Iran nor planned to expand to Iran (4).