The Council on Ethics recommends that Young Poong Corp be excluded from investment by the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) due to an unacceptable risk that the company is responsible for or contributes to severe environmental damage.
Young Poong owns and operates the Seokpo smelter in South Korea. The smelter has been accused of causing serious pollution as well as harm to both the environment and human health for many years. Studies show serious persistent and ongoing pollution, including emissions of heavy metals (e.g. cadmium, zinc, lead and arsenic). There are also comprehensive discharges to a river system and pollution of soils.
Over a period of many years, government authorities have not only ordered the company to implement remedial measures and shut down temporarily until improvements were made, but have also imposed a series of fines. A company executive has received prison sentence for comprehensive manipulation of emission monitoring data. Values for air pollution that were substantially above national limits had been changed to show values far below these limits. The company does not appear to have implemented measures to substantially reduce the pollution.
The company has notresponded to the Council on Ethics’ enquiries.
The Council on Ethics submitted its recommendation on 28 February 2022. Norges Bank published its decision to exclude the company on 7 September 2022.