A Republican congressional candidate has financial ties to a number of Russian companies that have been sanctioned by the US, the Guardian has learned.
Greg Gianforte, who is the GOP standard bearer in the upcoming special election in Montana, owns just under $250,000 in shares in two index funds that are invested in the Russian economy to match its overall performance.
According to a financial disclosure filed with the clerk of the House of Representatives, the Montana tech mogul owns almost $150,000 worth of shares in VanEck Vectors Russia ETF and $92,400 in the IShares MSCF Russia ETF fund. Both are indexed to the Russian equities market and have significant holdings in companies such as Gazprom and Rosneft that came under US sanctions in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of the Crimea.
The holdings, while substantial, make up only a small portion of Gianforte’s wealth. The congressional candidate, who made a fortune starting a software company which was later sold to Oracle, has assets estimated to be worth between $65m and $315m, according to his financial disclosure.
So he’s got 0.1% perhaps of his wealth in an index fund which owns some Gazprom stock?
Alert the media!
Umm, actually, that’s what they have done, isn’t it? But why is any bugger writing a newspaper article about it?
Richard Nephew, the former principal deputy coordinator for sanctions policy at the state department, told the Guardian that “there is definitely a question here but my initial reaction is that this is not something to freak out about”.
He added: “Index funds are usually just like mutual funds, excluded from consideration from a sanctions perspective because the ownership stake per person is incredibly small.”