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MOSERS backs Malek’s move to divest from China

After a lengthy effort by State Treasurer Vivek Malek, the Missouri State Employees Retirement System (MOSERS) Board voted yesterday to begin disinvesting Missouri’s funds from China. 

The 11 person Board of Trustees voted 9 – 2 Tuesday to sell most of its investment in Chinese owned companies, which encompassed about $200 million of the MOSERS portfolio.

Senate Minoirty Leader John Rizzo of Independence and the Retired Executive Director of MOSERS Gary were the two members to vote no. 

The decision reversed a previous vote in November, in which the board rejected Missouri State Treasurer Vivek Malek’s initial plan to disinvest funds in China. 

MOSERS administer retirement, life insurance, and long-term disability benefits for most state employees. Currently, the MOSERS fund sits at $8.7 billion

The board is made up of a mix of elected members, as well as members appointed by the Missouri General Assembly and the Governor. Malek is also a member of the board. 

“I am grateful the majority of my fellow MOSERS Trustees have agreed that China is too risky and unstable for investments of Missouri’s state retiree pension funds. I’m glad we have made a better decision, which will protect the pension funds for which we shoulder both legal and moral responsibilities of careful stewardship. Investments in China simply carry a level of risk that is contrary to the interests of our retirees, as well as the State of Missouri and the United States. Today the MOSERS Trustees did the right thing,” Malek said in a press release after the vote. 

In an opinion editorial written shortly after the November vote, Malek argued that China’s “Deflation, its shrinking workforce, and a slow recovery from the pandemic” made China a risky place to invest for MOSERS.

This is not the first time a State Treasurer has been concerned about MOSERS investments with adversarial countries. In March of 2022, State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick called for an emergency meeting to disinvest funds out of Russia, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier that year. 

Malek was appointed as State Treasurer by Governor Mike Parson last December after Scott Fitzpatrick was elected State Auditor. Malek is running for a full term as State Treasurer in 2024.