DENVER — The Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA), which provides pension benefits to public employees in the state, will divest millions from Russia's largest financial institution following the invasion of Ukraine.
A spokesperson told 9NEWS on Friday that PERA has $8 million invested in five Russian companies. Of that, $7.2 million is with Sberbank, a state-owned bank in Russia specifically identified in new federal sanctions.
The other companies are OGK-2, Gazprom, Mosenergo and Rosneft Oil. PERA is still determining what action will be taken with the money in those businesses.
Colorado State Treasurer Dave Young (D), who sits on PERA's board, said Colorado invests overseas to diversify the portfolio.
"The goal is to have a sustainable benefit for our members," Young said. "We want to make sure the benefit is there for them when they retire. So, when we invest, we make sure we diversify the portfolio and spread out investments, so that if one small piece isn't doing well, there are other parts that do better."
Currently, PERA is "reviewing and preparing to implement" the mandate. They plan to comply with the federal timeline to complete this work.
While Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) on Thursday requested for PERA to divest from Russian-owned assets, PERA said this action, rather, is in response to the federal sanctions, and they do not divest from companies unless directed to do so by the state legislature or federal government.
Polis announced he similarly wanted the state treasury to divest if necessary. Colorado Treasurer Dave Young said the office has reviewed its investment portfolio "and can confirm that the Colorado Treasury Department does not hold Russian-owned assets.”
The governor also urged universities to reconsider projects or grants with Russia, called for the termination of any state contracts with Russia-owned companies and said Colorado will leave the Russian consular office in Houston.
PERA's overall portfolio is worth more than $61 billion as of this week.
President Joe Biden on Friday continued to announce new sanctions targeting Russia, including some imposed directly on Russian President Vladimir Putin.