Several countries are keeping their economies away from SWFs due to the concern that some investments are being diverted for political objective to acquire control of strategically important assets. It has been observed that OPECs have been diverting large pool of funds in acquiring strategic assets and investing in important sectors like infrastructure, telecom, energy and media across developed countries. After much opposition from US Congress, Abu Dhabi's Investment Authority had to withdraw from its ADIA Dubai Port after 9/11 terror attacks.
China Investment Corporation's $ 5 billion stake in Morgan Stanley and acquisition of Citigroup by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority for $ 7.5 billion was severely criticized after the recent subprime crisis.
Lack of transparency continues to be a major concern for nations that are experiencing increasing SWF funding in their economies. SWFs are being criticized for inadequate disclosures regarding size and source of funds, investment objectives and their holding in private equity funds. While in the US, these concerns are addressed by the Exon-Florio Amendment to the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, European Union preferred to avoid SWF funding. Some experts opine that such a fear is unwarranted if we compare the size of SWFs assets ($ 2 trillion) with the size of global investment funds assets ($ 20 trillion) and securities traded in dollars ($ 50 trillion).
IMG tried to address this concern of transparency and governance by issuing the Santiago Principles in 2007, a set of 24 voluntary principles to ensure transparency and sound governance by sovereign wealth funds (SWFs). However, very few SWFs have been following these principles seriously.