October 27, 2011

Speaker Silver Introduces Sweeping Iran Divestment Legislation
Legislation Would Bar Companies that Invest in Iranian Energy Sector
From Doing Business with State or Local Governments

In the aftermath of a suspected attempt by the Iranian government to carry out a terror plot on U.S. soil, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) today announced landmark legislation (A.8668) that would bar companies that invest in Iran's energy sector from doing business with New York State or local governments.

"The government of Iran is a tyrannical regime and a sponsor of international terrorism and it is determined to acquire nuclear weapons," Silver said. "For the safety of our nation, as well as our allies throughout the world, including Israel, we cannot allow that to happen. By divesting the state from any business with companies whose actions further Iran's pursuit of nuclear arms, we are doing our part to make the world a safer place."

The Iran Divestment Act of 2012 - modeled after similar legislation in California and conceived with help from the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York - would prohibit companies that provide goods, services or credit worth $20 million or more to Iran's energy industry from entering into or renewing state and local government contracts.

A federal law passed last year authorized state and local governments to divest from companies whose interests in Iran's energy sector directly or indirectly support its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The divestment would apply to companies engaged in oil or natural gas development in Iran, as well any company found to be directly involved in nuclear power.

The legislation directs the Office of General Services to create a list of people, corporations and other organizations with investments of more than $20 million in the Iranian energy sector. Those on the list would be excluded from bidding on government contracts.

The bill also requires individuals or entities to certify they are not on the list when they submit bids to state and local agencies. Individuals or companies on the list that are the sole source of certain commodities or services can renew or enter into contracts on a case-by-case basis.

Alan S. Jaffe, President and Michael S. Miller, Executive Vice President and CEO, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York said, "We applaud Speaker Silver's leadership in introducing this groundbreaking legislation barring New York State taxpayer dollars from going to firms investing in Iran's energy sector. Iran is the world's leading exporter and state sponsor of terror, actively facilitating deadly attacks against our U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This measure further intensifies global efforts to isolate Iran for its ongoing violations of its own citizens' human rights and international law."

In 2009, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced that the he divested $86.2 million in New York State Common Retirement Fund investments from nine companies that conducted business in Iran and/or Sudan. These companies were Gazprom, Inpex, Lukoil, Oil and Natural Gas Corp., OMV, Petroleo Brasilia, Statoil, Wartsila OYJ, and Sinopec Corp.