Feds Will Investigate California Public Pension Fund


Inquiring minds are reading the breaking story about the Feds investigating California’s public pension for securities fraud:

Federal regulators are investigating whether California violated securities laws and failed to provide adequate disclosure about its giant public pension fund, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation.

The Securities and Exchange Commission normally polices companies, but last year it brought its first enforcement action ever against a state, accusing New Jersey of securities fraud for misleading bond investors about the condition of its pension fund. The commission signaled, in its settlement with New Jersey, that it was going to look more broadly at the pension disclosures of states and cities.

The fund, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, known as Calpers, lost about a quarter of its total investment portfolio during the financial crisis, leaving the state responsible for replacing billions of dollars each year and contributing to its huge deficit. The question is whether California adequately disclosed in the preceding years how risky the pension investments were and how much money it might need to cover any shortfall.

But it is unclear whether investigators are focusing on those risks or on possible conflicts of interest in steering investments to related parties, the subject of a separate investigation by the attorney general of California.

This should be a very interesting story for quite a while.

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