Sovereign funds look to placate their critics

Sovereign wealth funds have pledged to be more open and accountable, in a pitch to win over Western critics.

The wealth funds – ­ estimated to hold assets worth more than $3trillion (£1.8tn) and typically owned by resource-rich countries, including China and the oil-rich countries in the Middle East – ­ have bought stakes in companies such as Citigroup and UBS, while Zabeel Investments has made an indicative offer for Charlton Athletic Football Club.

However, politicians have expressed concerns that the funds are not transparent enough and may invest in Western companies for political, not economic goals.

In answer to this, the International Working Group of Sovereign Wealth Funds agreed voluntary principles at the weekend. The Santiago principles, named after the city in which they were drafted, include a call on wealth funds to have a transparent and sound governance structure, to comply with regulatory and disclosure requirements in countries in which they invest and maintain a stable financial system.

Jerry Leamon, Deloitte global managing partner, said the agreement was a “significant step in the right direction” that would help promote better understanding of sovereign wealth funds.

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