Laurence Fletcher, Financial Times

Ahead of the Headlinemoney Awards, we've been speaking to the journalists shortlisted in our new ESG Story of the Year category. Today, the FT's Laurence Fletcher describes what he believes to be an overlooked but critically important area of ESG and reveals his love of cycling.

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Job-title & media organisation:

Hedge Funds Correspondent, Financial Times.

What are the main beats you cover?

Hedge funds, asset managers, markets.

What made you become a financial journalist?

I’d wanted to be a journalist and got an internship at Bloomberg. I soon started to realise what an interesting and important area this is to cover.

What was your reaction to making the ESG Story of the Year shortlist?

It’s really encouraging that the human rights aspect of ESG is finally being taken more seriously.

Tell us more about your nominated story and how you both came to write it:

In our story, ESG investing: funds weigh sovereign debt profits against human rights, we wanted to draw attention to what we believe to be an overlooked but critically important area of ESG.

I’d been following for some time the case of Kadyr Yusupov, a former Uzbek diplomat who had been convicted of treason by a closed court in Uzbekistan and mistreated in prison, including being subjected to alleged psychological torture. He continues to be held, even though a UN working party last year found his imprisonment contravened five articles of its Universal Declaration of Human Rights and called for his immediate release.

I’d begun to realise that many of the City’s most prominent fund management firms that professed strong credentials on ESG and human rights were lending money to the governments carrying out human rights abuses. In most cases, they appeared to be doing this without even raising these issues with the countries issuing the bonds.

 Who would you most like to interview about their views on ESG issues?

The head of any large asset management firm prepared to talk candidly and honestly about how they approach human rights issues relating to sovereign bond investing. 

Finally, if you were up for an award for any hobbies/activities outside of work, what would you be likely to win, and why?

I’m a keen cyclist but I’m not sure I’d win any awards for it!

Full Headlinemoney 2022 shortlists

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