Sovereign Wealth Funds: Publicly Available Data on Sizes and Investments for Some Funds Are Limited

GAO-08-946 Published: Sep 09, 2008. Publicly Released: Oct 06, 2008.
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Highlights

Sovereign wealth funds (SWF) are government-controlled funds that seek to invest in other countries. With new funds being created and many growing rapidly, some see these funds providing valuable capital to world markets, but others are concerned that the funds are not transparent and could be used to further national goals and potentially harm the countries where they invest. GAO plans to issue a series of reports on various aspects of SWFs. This first report analyzed (1) the availability of publicly reported data from SWFs and others on their sizes and holdings internationally, and (2) the availability of publicly reported data from the U.S. government and other sources on SWFs' U.S. investments. GAO reviewed foreign government disclosures, Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and Department of Commerce (Commerce) reporting, and private researcher data to identify SWFs and their activities. GAO also analyzed information from international organizations and securities filings. Treasury and Commerce commented that GAO's report provides timely and useful contributions to the SWF debate; SEC noted that U.S. securities requirements apply to all large investors, including SWFs. Future GAO reports will address laws affecting SWF investments, SWF governance practices, and the potential impact of SWFs and U.S. options for addressing them.

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