Alternative Investment Looting Is Destroying Pension Funds

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/edwardsiedle/2021/05/21/alternative-investment-looting-is-destroying-pension-funds/?sh=1e71137979c1

Excerpt:

Forensic investigations in Rhode Island, North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio reveal that gambling 30 percent or more on high-cost, high-risk, secretive alternative investments has exposed pensions to massively greater risks and reduced net returns. The time is ripe for legislators, regulators, and law enforcement to act to stop the looting.

A recent New York Times NYT -3% article revealed that putting more than half of the $62 billion Pennsylvania state teachers’ retirement fund’s assets into risky alternative investments hadn’t worked out well for the pension and had spurred an investigation by the FBI. The FBI is investigating reporting fraud—returns allegedly falsified to avoid increased worker contributions to the pension.

Law enforcement investigations into public pension funds that lie about their returns are long, long overdue.

Author(s): Edward Siedle

Publication Date: 21 May 2021

Publication Site: Forbes

Your Pension Board Thinks It’s Smarter Than Warren Buffett—It’s Not

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/edwardsiedle/2021/05/01/your-pension-board-thinks-its-smarter-than-warren-buffett-its-not/?sh=b3fdc2611302

Excerpt:

Buffett has a consistent history of blasting Wall Street firms for charging high fees for actively managed investments and has recommended pensions invest in low-cost passively managed index funds.

You might think that underfunded pensions struggling to pay benefits would heed Buffett’s advice and seek to cut the fees they pay Wall Street.

Embrace austerity. Tighten their belts. Trim the fat. 

In fact, every forensic investigation I’ve ever undertaken has exposed that the nearer a pension is to insolvency, the higher the fees and the greater the risks the pension takes on.

Author(s): Ted Siedle

Publication Date: 1 May 2021

Publication Site: Forbes

Members of teacher pension fund planning lawsuit to force transparency

Link: https://news.yahoo.com/members-teacher-pension-fund-planning-110300430.html?guccounter=1

Excerpt:

About 1,000 current and retired Ohio educators skeptical of the true financial shape of their $90 billion state pension fund are preparing to sue to force greater cooperation with a $75,000 self-funded investigation of its books.

The forensics audit, financed through money raised from members, is being undertaken by pension investment expert Ted Siedle — a former Securities Exchange Commission attorney, financial forensics investigator, and co-author of the book “Who Stole My Pension?”

The public records lawsuit will ask the Ohio Supreme Court to force the State Teachers Retirement System, serving some 500,000 active, inactive, and retired members, to release information that investment firms have claimed is proprietary or a trade secret.

Author(s): Jim Provance, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

Publication Date: 3 May 2021

Publication Site: Yahoo News

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer Loosening City Pension Private Equity Rules Will Help Him, Hurt Pensioners

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/edwardsiedle/2021/02/24/new-york-city-comptroller-scott-stringer-loosening-city-pension-private-equity-rules-will-help-him-hurt-pensioners/?sh=6bdb3ceb2592

Excerpt:

What a remarkable coincidence that New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer is looking to loosen strict rules that govern private-equity firms managing the city’s pensions when the Democrat is running for mayor in this year’s election. Presumably, private equity firms who may earn hundreds of millions in fees if the pension restrictions are lifted will let him know just how grateful they are.

Author(s): Edward Siedle

Publication Date: 24 February 2021

Publication Site: Forbes

Private Equity Pays To Silence Investor-Whistleblowers Aware Of Fraud

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/edwardsiedle/2021/02/28/private-equity-pays-to-silence-investor-whistleblowers-aware-of-fraud/?sh=45191ea71cee

Excerpt:

For fiduciaries overseeing other people’s money, private equity’s disparate treatment of investors, abusive industry practices and alarming lack of transparency should be deal-breakers. To the contrary, pensions in recent years have dramatically increased their allocations to private equity funds—either because they don’t understand the dangers lurking in the shadows or simply don’t care as long as above-market returns are promised (which will supposedly reduce severe pension underfunding).

….

Securities and pension regulators have paid little attention to the “side letter” agreements private equity funds enter into with investors granting preferential treatment. It’s no secret that these agreements exist—the practice of entering into them is disclosed in offering memoranda and is openly discussed throughout the industry. As a result of increasing institutional investor domination of private equity, and the regulation applicable to these investors, it is now standard practice in the industry for each investor to demand its own side letter. As a consequence, there has been a proliferation of the number of side letters being negotiated with investors, as well as the kinds of arrangements and provisions included in them.

Author(s): Edward Siedle

Publication Date: 28 February 2021

Publication Site: Forbes