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Byline Times Fact Checked!

This article will be fairly short. I have written previously about the absurdity of finding individual investments with Somerset Capital Management’s suite of funds and considering them a conflict of interest for Rees-Mogg, so I’m not going to repeat that.

In an article in Byline Times, Nafeez Ahmed, says:

Byline Times can now reveal how Somerset Capital Management’s early fossil fuel investments connect Rees-Mogg with the dirtiest oil and gas ventures in the world.

They confirm that Rees-Mogg personally profited from investments in North American fossil fuel giants which spearheaded the world’s biggest and potentially most environmentally-destructive pipeline projects.”

Sounds like a serious allegation. So how did he profit? Ahmed goes on to say,

“The parliamentary register of interests shows that in November 2012 – two years after Rees-Mogg became Conservative MP in North East Somerset – during his role managing investments at Somerset Capital Management, he acquired a client named Redwood Emerging Markets Dividend Income Fund.

That month, Redwood launched a new Exchange Traded Funds incorporating stocks in some of the largest and dirtiest fossil fuel giants in Canada, including TransCanada, now known as TC Energy Corporation.”

And then proceeds to list some environmentally unfriendly deeds TC Energy have been involved in.

But hang on, what’s the connection? So SCM, an Emerging Markets specialist, was hired by Redwood Asset Management (nothing to do with John Redwood!) to manage Redwood Emerging Markets Dividend Income Fund – nothing unusual or controversial about that. Remember “That month, Redwood launched a new Exchange Traded Funds incorporating stocks in some of the largest and dirtiest fossil fuel giants in Canada”. What has to do with Somerset Capital Management?

Could it be just an omission in the article? That Somerset also managed this fund, but Ahmed just neglected to explicitly state it? No. I can find no connection whatever to the Redwood ETF and there’s a number of reasons to believe no such connection exists.

Firstly, Somerset is an Emerging Markets specialist – it’s pretty much all they do. Canada is clearly not an Emerging Market so I very much doubt Somerset would manage a Canadian focussed fund, and nor would an Emerging Markets fund have direct exposure to Canadian equities.

Secondly, Redwood Asset Management (now belonging to Purpose Investments) were based in Canada. Why would a Canadian Asset Management company hire a UK based Emerging Markets specialist to manage a Canadian focused fund?

Thirdly, since Redwood Emerging Markets Dividend Income Fund appears on the Register of Members’ Interests as a client of SCM if the Redwood Canadian ETF was a client it would surely also appear. It does not.

So the only connection Rees-Mogg has to these non-environmentally friendly companies is through a client of SCM who manages a fund that invests in them! This is not a tenuous link - it isn't a link at all.

The article states:

“They confirm that Rees-Mogg personally profited from investments in north American fossil fuel giants”

No, they don’t.

It’s fair to say the Byline Times article needs some clarification at the very least. It is at best incomplete, at worst it's just nonsense. I'm not going to categorically state it's nonsense, but since it was supposed to be a "gotcha" for Rees-Mogg, and it omits to include what the actual link to Rees-Mogg is, I'd be only a smidgen beneath categorical.

Oh, “In January 2020, he received £2,000 from Sir Henry Keswick, chairman of Jardine Matheson”. Goodness, 2 grand. The donation was apparently registered on 2nd January 2020. If I was a betting man my guess would be Sir Henry Keswick won a Christmas Hamper at a fundraising auction!! The corruption of it all.

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