The Los Angeles Times revealed back in 2007 that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has made millions of dollars each year from companies blamed for many of the same social and health problems the Foundation seeks to address.
The LA Times investigation revealed the Gates Foundation’s humanitarian concerns are not reflected in how it invests its money. In the Niger Delta — where the Foundation funds programs to fight polio and measles – the Foundation has also invested more than $400 million dollars in companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp, and Chevron. These oil firms have been responsible for much of the pollution many blame for respiratory problems and other afflictions among the local population.
The Gates Foundation also has investments in sixty-nine of the worst polluting companies in the US and Canada, including Dow Chemical. It holds stakes in pharmaceutical companies whose drugs cost far beyond what most AIDS patients around the world can afford. Other companies in the Foundation’s portfolio have been accused of transgressions including forcing thousands of people to lose their homes; supporting child labor; and defrauding and neglecting patients in need of medical care.
With an endowment larger than all but four of the world’s largest hedge funds, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is easily one of the most powerful charities in the world. According to its website, the organization “works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.” So how do the investments of the foundation’s $36 billion investing arm, the Gates Foundation Trust, match up to its mission? We dug into the group’s recently released 2012 tax returns to find out.
The Gates Foundation did not respond to Mother Jones’ requests for comment; however, its investment policy says the the trust’s managers “consider other issues beyond corporate profits, including the values that drive the foundation’s work.”
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