Bipartisan lawmakers urge SEC to review Unilever filings over Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott
Ben and Jerry's announced in July it would no longer sell products in Israel
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is urging the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to assess whether the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s should amend its regulatory filing to reflect potential risks to shareholders over the company’s Israel boycott.
The group, led by Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., sent a letter Friday to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler asking him to take action to ensure Unilever, the ice cream company’s parent company, is in compliance with SEC rules.
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"In the interests of shareholders, consumers, and public policy, we believe it is appropriate for the SEC to take steps to ensure the full disclosure of all information necessary to make Unilever’s filings in compliance with the rules and regulations of the United States’ SEC," the letter stated, Jewish Insider reported.
"Unilever is a widely held company with a current market capitalization of $135 billion, which places in jeopardy the manifold United States institutions, pension funds, and endowments which hold its shares on behalf of its beneficiaries," the letter continued, the New York Post reported. "We believe that these actions require the SEC to request that the regulatory filings of Unilever be amended to disclose the material risk factors."
Reps. Andrew Garbarino, R-N.Y., Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., joined Torres in signing the letter.
Ben and Jerry’s announced in July that it would no longer sell its products in disputed territories including the West Bank, which the company called "Occupied Palestinian Territory." The decision came amid an escalating conflict between Israel and Gaza, and Ben & Jerry's said in a statement that selling products in those areas would be "inconsistent with" Ben & Jerry's "values."
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Unilever told Fox News in a July statement that it "remain[s] fully committed to our presence in Israel" and pointed to its 2000 acquisition agreement with Ben & Jerry's that "recognized the right of the brand and its independent Board to take decisions about its social mission."
More than 30 states prohibit the use of public pension funds or the awarding of government contracts to companies that boycott Israel, and some have responded to the Ben and Jerry’s Israel boycott by divesting pension funds from Unilever.
Fox News’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.