New Jersey mulls becoming among few to ban Iran investments

17 12 2007

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey on Monday was expected to move toward becoming one of the few states to prohibit state pension money from being invested in companies doing business in Iran.

The move is designed in protest of the country’s links to terrorism and its nuclear ambitions.

Most American companies are barred from doing business in Iran, but the state Senate was slated to vote on legislation restricting the state from buying stock in international companies that do business with Iran. The Assembly voted 78-1 in June to approve the measure.If approved by the Senate it goes to Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine for his signature.

Corzine’s administration has said it would prefer maximum freedom to make investment choices, but has said it was reviewing the bill.

Florida earlier this year became the first state to approve such a law, according to the Center for Security Policy, a Washington, D.C-based nonprofit that pushes states to divest public money from counties linked to terrorism.

Florida’s law also banned investments in Sudan, and the board governing Florida’s public employee retirement fund authorized it to divest nearly $1.3 billion invested with 21 companies doing business in the two nations.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October signed legislation to end state investment in companies that do business with Iran.

“Divesting is a key component of preventing Iran from their efforts to oppress their citizens, terrorize their neighbors and spread hatred throughout the world,” said New Jersey Sen. Robert Singer, R-Ocean. “New Jersey shouldn’t be complicit in perpetuating human rights violations and the spreading of terrorism.”

New Jersey Assemblyman Neil Cohen cited anti-Israeli comments made by Iranian leaders.

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