Bank investments in nuclear weapons

In June 2019, PAX, a member of the Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), launched its latest Don’t Bank on the Bomb report (PDF download) reviewing the financing of the nuclear weapons industry by global financial institutions.

The report names and shames those that are still okay with trying to make a profit from producing nuclear weapons.

Corporate investments in nuclear weapons

The report found that 325 financial institutions had provided financing of $748 billion to the top 18 nuclear weapons producers between January 2017 and January 2019.  The financing provided by the institutions could be loans, investment banking or ownership of more than 0.5% of the shares of at least one of the producing companies.

21 of these finance companies appear in our banking shopping guides and thereby received a half mark in the Arms & Military Supply category. See the Hall of Shame table below for how much money they are providing.

More than half of all investments were made by ten financial institutions, two of which appear in our banking guides:

Nuclear weapons have been prohibited by a UN treaty since 2017. 82 states have signed the treaty and 44 have ratified it but it needs 50 states to ratify it before it can come into effect. 69 nations did not vote, among them all of the nuclear weapon states and all NATO members, except the Netherlands, which voted against the treaty.

While states and civil society are turning away from the most destructive weapons ever created, these companies are helping the nine countries which still own nuclear weapons, and another 30 so-called nuclear umbrella states, to keep the use of nuclear weapons as part of their security strategies.

Hall of Fame

However, there also appears to be a growing number of financial institutions which are choosing not to fund the nuclear weapons industry. 36 institutions (up from 22 in the 2018 report) were listed in the Report’s ‘Hall of Fame’ for having a comprehensive policy that excluded all types of investments in nuclear weapons companies (withdrawing past investments and avoiding future investments).

Triodos and The Co-operative Bank were included.

Triodos is super transparent and publishes all its investments on it s website. Co-op Bank does not and unfortunately, despite its own policies, it is 12% owned by Invesco, a company that does finance nuclear weapons.

Hall of Shame: Banks that help finance nuclear weapons companies

Bank   $ millions  
Blackrock (Janus Henderson ethical investment fund) 61,200.1
Citigroup (Citibank) 17,017.0
BNP Paribas (owns 25% of Impax funds) 9,967.3
Deutsche Bank (owns 19% of ICICI) 6,757.4
Janus Henderson 6,104.9
Barclays 5,038.9
Lloyds Banking Group 4,311.1
AXA 3,733.7
HSBC 2,976.5
Invesco (owns 12% of Co-op Bank) 2,965.3
Santander 2,193.6
Legal & General 2,092.0
RBS (now NatWest Group) 1,821.4
BMO Financial 1,589.9
ICICI Bank 1,408.2
Allianz 936.7
Prudential 541.8
Standard Life Aberdeen 374.4
Aegon 320.9
Danske Bank 260.1
Aviva 239.8
Schroders (owns 11% of Liontrust funds) 165.2
Jupiter Fund Management (Jupiter Ecology fund and part owns Kent Reliance & Charter Savings) 147.7
Banco de Sabadell (TSB) 127.0
Bank of Ireland (Post Office) 43.4
Munich RE (owns 10% of Admiral Insurance) 43.0

(Ranked by total finance made available to nuclear weapons companies)

Three of the 18 nuclear weapons producing companies

Serco (UK) is part of the joint venture AWE-ML, which runs the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment which is responsible for manufacturing and maintaining Trident nuclear warheads for the UK arsenal, as well as developing the new nuclear warhead, Mark4A. At the time of writing, it was also handling the UK’s COVID track and trace system.

BAE Systems (UK) is involved in the nuclear weapons programmes of France, the UK and the US. It produces key components for Trident II (D5) missiles for the US and UK nuclear arsenals. It also produces US Minuteman III nuclear Intercontinental Ballistic Missile systems. BAE Systems is also part of the MBDA joint venture and provides nuclear armed air-to-surface missiles for France.

Boeing (USA) is contracted to help keep the Minuteman III missiles operational in the US nuclear arsenal until 2030.
Boeing will also be producing its replacement, the new Ground Based Strategic Deterrent system for the US, as well as the guided tail kit for the new B61-12 US nuclear gravity bomb.

CLUSTER MUNITIONS

The production of cluster munitions has been banned in over 100 countries because of their indiscriminate killing. They spread dozens, or even hundreds, of bomblets over an area the size of a football stadium and can remain on the ground like landmines that kill and injure civilians long after the conflict has ended.

Blackrock and Citigroup, the top two nuclear weapons funders, are also in the ‘hall of shame’ for investing in cluster munitions producers.  A further 10 finance companies that appear in our banking shopping guides “have made a serious effort to adopt and implement a policy to disinvest from cluster munitions, but have some shortcomings in either the policy or its implementation”. 

They are: Aegon, Axa, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Danske, Deutsche, Handelsbanken, HSBC, Lloyds Bank and RBS (NatWest).

Triodos and Co-op Bank are in the ‘hall of fame’ for having implemented a comprehensive policy to not invest in cluster munitions.

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