A spokesman for the fund, the largest of its kind in the world, said he was familiar with the accusations levelled against the company.
“As of December 31st, 2015, we had invested 4.2 billion kroner in LafargeHolcim. We are aware that there are now allegations against the company, but we unfortunately do not comment on individual investments or individual companies,” Thomas Sevang told VG.
The French firm Lafarge became the world's largest cement company when it merged with Swiss outfit Holcim in 2014, in a transaction in which the oil fund also purchased partial ownership. The Lafarge subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria ran a cement factory in northern Syria until Isis took over the factory site in September 2014 and brought all activities to a halt.
The French newspaper Le Monde has reported that a letter sent by Lafarge workers revealed that the company made a deal with Isis in which it allegedly paid taxes to the terror group in return for continuing its operations in Syria.
According to VG, the European Centre for Human Rights, together with eleven former Lafarge employees from Syria, have formally reported the company’s alleged financial ties to Isis to a Paris court.
Aslak Skancke of the oil fund’s ethics council said he couldn’t assess whether the allegations were true but said it would “be problematic if a company we have investments in paid money to Isis to maintain its operations”.
Norway’s public pension fund, commonly called the oil fund, holds stock in more than 9,000 companies and controls 1.3 percent of the world's market capitalisation. It follows strict ethical guidelines that bar it from investing in groups accused of serious violations of human rights, child labour or serious environmental damage, as well as manufacturers of “particularly inhumane” arms, and also tobacco firms.
The fund draws investment money from Norway's huge oil revenues, and is intended to pay for future generations in the welfare-state after the country's oil wells run dry.