Public and union pension funds are keeping an eye on three lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn seeking slavery reparations from Aetna Inc., CSX Corp. and FleetBoston Financial. The suits allege the three companies profited from the slave trade between 1619 and 1865.
New Jersey State Sen. Robert W. Singer said, depending on how the suits go, the state may decide to divest itself of companies that profited from the slave trade. Mr. Singer wrote legislation requiring the $66 billion New Jersey Division of Investment, Trenton, to stop investing in South African companies to protest apartheid and later in Swiss companies that held Jewish assets seized during the Holocaust.
Brandon Rees, a research analyst for the AFL-CIO Office of Investment, Washington, said the lawsuits underscore the need for corporate responsibility to inform shareholders of potential litigation risk and to minimize those risks.