November 17, 2015

The U.S. investment company TIAA-CREF has amassed vast holdings of Brazilian farmland through a joint venture that has done business with one of the country's most notorious "land grabbers," according to a report published by a nonprofit group.

The report details a complex business arrangement that enabled TIAA-CREF to invest in Brazil's real estate market, even though the country's laws restrict foreign ownership of land.

Much of the land purchased by the company has been in the Cerrado, a large region where woodlands are being replaced by farmland — a process that worries many environmentalists.

TIAA-CREF is one of the country's biggest retirement fund companies, investing huge amounts of money for teachers, university administrators and public sector workers. It also manages retirement funds for NPR employees and is among NPR's financial supporters.

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