Justice Department Ends Investigation of Pennsylvania PSERS

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/justice-department-ends-investigation-of-pennsylvania-psers/

Excerpt:

The Department of Justice has dropped its investigation into the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System, said Chris Santa Maria, chairman of the $75.9 billion pension fund’s board of trustees, in a statement. PSERS made no further comment on the matter.

The pension fund had been under investigation by the Justice Department since at least May of last year, when subpoenas indicated that the FBI and prosecutors were seeking evidence of kickbacks and bribes at PSERS.

The subpoenas were reportedly looking for information from the pension fund, its executive director, chief financial officer, chief auditing officer and deputy CIO. The court orders reportedly showed that the FBI and prosecutors were probing possible “honest services fraud” and wire fraud.

….

According to a report released earlier this year following an internal investigation, PSERS investment consultant Aon took responsibility for the accounting error. The report includes a letter from Aon to Grossman that said the firm had become aware of data corruption in some sub-composite market values, cashflows and returns for April 2015.

Aon attributed the data corruption to an error by an analyst in uploading net asset value and cashflow data into the performance system it uses. The company said the data corruption impacted “a few asset class composites” in the public markets.

Author(s): Michael Katz

Publication Date: 3 Aug 2022

Publication Site: ai-CIO

Was ‘The Staircase’ murder really about life insurance?

Link: https://www.policygenius.com/life-insurance/news/staircase-michael-peterson/

Excerpt:

It’s been 21 years since novelist Michael Peterson was on trial for the murder of his wife, Kathleen, but the case is still capturing the public’s attention—most recently in an HBO Max series, “The Staircase.”

….

The case also involved the potential for a large life insurance payout. Kathleen had a $1.4 million life insurance policy, which was due to be paid to Michael in the event of her death. Prosecutors said Peterson was hoping to use the payout to address his debt [1] , including $143,000 in credit card debt.

…..

Peterson signed away any claim to the life insurance proceeds during the trial. However, because of the slayer rule, Peterson wouldn’t have been able to collect any money. Under the slayer rule, anyone suspected of murder or plotting a murder is prevented from benefiting from the dead person’s life insurance policy. Instead, Kathleen’s biological daughter, Caitlin Atwater, and her daughter’s father, Fred Atwater, received the money. [2]

In the scope of insurance fraud, life insurance murders aren’t a huge occurrence but they do happen, says Matthew J. Smith, executive director of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. For instance, in 2017, Joaquin Shadow Rams Sr., was convicted of killing his 15-month-old son for insurance money. Rams had taken out a $500,000 life insurance policy on the boy soon after he was born, which Smith says, should have been a red flag. 

Author(s): Lisa Rabasca Roepe

Publication Date: accessed 18 June 2022

Publication Site: Policygenius

WHAT’S THE PRICE OF FORGETTING FAT LEONARD?

Link: https://inkstickmedia.com/whats-the-price-of-forgetting-fat-leonard/

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Excerpt:

“How is this not a movie?”

This is the common response when people learn about the US Navy’s Fat Leonard scandal. The high stakes drama and salacious details do seem made for the silver screen, but what’s more surprising is how many people — among them Hill staff, Pentagon budget experts, and other defense policy participants — are unaware of the crimes that proliferated up and down the ranks of the 7th Fleet less than a decade ago. That military leaders, Congress, and the public seem to have forgotten this affair that took down rising leaders, defrauded the US government, and undermined our national security is at least as troubling as the events themselves. 

Here’s the short version of events: 

The US Navy contracted with Glenn Marine Group (GMG), a ship husbanding company that assisted the Navy with port security, repairs, fueling, restocking and other dockside needs. The president of GMG, Francis Leonard (aka Fat Leonard), overbilled the Navy for things like fresh water and redirected carrier movements to ports where he could charge the most. He bribed officers with $18,000 meals and extravagant hotel stays, prostitutes, parties, cash, and luxury goods. He gained access to sensitive information and paid off people in roles who could help avoid investigations into his activities. Only after the US Department of Justice stepped in — to investigate a suspected mole within the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) who was tipping off Leonard — did the enterprise start to unravel. 

In 2013, federal agents arrested Leonard in San Diego and charged another 33 people with various crimes, though Leonard’s activities cast a much wider net. In 2018, the Washington Post reported that: “According to the Navy, an additional 550 active-duty and retired military personnel — including about 60 admirals — have come under scrutiny for possible violations of military law or ethics rules.” 

Author(s): Nan Swift

Publication Date: 18 March 2022

Publication Site: Inkstick Media

SEC Charges Allianz Global Investors and Three Former Senior Portfolio Managers with Multibillion Dollar Securities Fraud

Link: https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2022-84

Excerpt:

The SEC’s complaint, filed in the federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that Structured Alpha’s Lead Portfolio Manager, Gregoire P. Tournant, orchestrated the multi-year scheme to mislead investors who invested approximately $11 billion in Structured Alpha, and paid the defendants over $550 million in fees. It further alleges that, with assistance from Co-Lead Portfolio Manager, Trevor L. Taylor, and Portfolio Manager, Stephen G. Bond-Nelson, Tournant manipulated numerous financial reports and other information provided to investors to conceal the magnitude of Structured Alpha’s true risk and the funds’ actual performance. 

Defendants reduced losses under a market crash scenario in one risk report sent to investors from negative 42.1505489755747% to negative 4.1505489755747% — by simply dropping the single digit 2.  In another example, defendants “smoothed” performance data sent to investors by reducing losses on one day from negative 18.2607085709004% to negative 9.2607085709004% — this time by cutting the number 18 in half.    

Publication Date: 17 May 2022

Publication Site: SEC

Architect of Allianz fraud made $60 mln as he lied to investors, U.S. says

Link: https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/architect-allianz-fraud-made-60-mln-he-lied-investors-us-says-2022-05-17/

Excerpt:

The star portfolio manager at the centre of a fraud at the U.S. funds unit of Allianz SE (ALVG.DE) relied on the German insurer’s good name to lure investors and thrived from a lack of oversight as he pocketed $60 million in pay, U.S. authorities said.

Gregoire “Greg” Tournant, a citizen of France and the United States, was indicted on Tuesday for securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of justice in a scheme that ran from 2014 to 2020. read more

It was a major development in a two-year saga that has haunted and embarrassed Allianz, one of the globe’s biggest financial firms, and began after the $11 billion in funds managed by Tournant collapsed as markets roiled with the outbreak of the coronavirus in early 2020.

U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday said Tournant faked documents, fabricated risk reports, altered spreadsheets, and lied about the investment strategy.

Author(s): Tom Sims, Alexander Hübner and John O’Donnell

Publication Date: 18 May 2022

Publication Site: Reuters

When Harry Fired Sally: The Double Standard in Punishing Misconduct

Link: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/718964

Abstract:

We examine gender differences in misconduct punishment in the financial advisory industry. There is a “gender punishment gap”: following an incident of misconduct, female advisers are 20% more likely to lose their jobs and 30% less likely to find new jobs, relative to male advisers. The gender punishment gap is not driven by gender differences in occupation, productivity, nature of misconduct, or recidivism. The gap in hiring and firing dissipates at firms with a greater percentage of female managers and executives. We also explore the differential treatment of ethnic minority men and find similar patterns of “in-group” tolerance.

Author(s): Mark Egan, Gregor Matvos, and Amit Seru

Publication Date: May 2022

Publication Site: Journal of Political Economy; Volume 130, Number 5

Tokyo’s ‘oldest man’ had been dead for 30 years

Link:https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-10809128

Excerpt:

He was thought to be the oldest man in Tokyo – but when officials went to congratulate Sogen Kato on his 111th birthday, they uncovered mummified skeletal remains lying in his bed.

Mr Kato may have been dead for 30 years according to Japanese authorities.

They grew suspicious when they went to honour Mr Kato at his address in Adachi ward, but his granddaughter told them he “doesn’t want to see anybody”.

Police are now investigating the family on possible fraud charges.

…..

But the family had received 9.5 million yen ($109,000: £70,000) in widower’s pension payments via Mr Kato’s bank account since his wife died six years ago, and some of the money had recently been withdrawn.

Publication Date: 29 July 2010

Publication Site: BBC

Gardaí investigating after man’s body used in apparent attempt to claim pension

Link:https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/garda%C3%AD-investigating-after-man-s-body-used-in-apparent-attempt-to-claim-pension-1.4782598

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Excerpt:

Gardaí are investigating the death of a man in Carlow town, whose body was brought into a post office by two others in what appeared to be an attempt to claim the deceased’s pension.

The bizarre series of events began when a man entered the post office at Hosey’s shop on Staplestown Road at about 11.30 am on Friday.

The man wanted to collect a pension payment on behalf of an older man but was informed by a staff member that the pensioner would have to be present if a payment was to be made.

The man left the post office and returned a short time later with two other men, one of whom was in his 60s. The two younger men are understood to have sought a pension payment for the third man, who it appeared was being propped up.

….

The deceased man, named locally as Peadar Doyle, is believed to have been in his late 60s and a resident of Pollerton Road, close to the post office.

Author(s): Jack Power, Ronan McGreevy

Publication Date: 21 Jan 2022

Publication Site: The Irish Times

Two men take corpse into Irish post office to claim dead man’s pension

Link:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/22/two-men-take-corpse-into-irish-post-office-to-claim-dead-mans-pension

Excerpt:

Gardaí have launched an investigation after two men carried a dead body into an Irish post office in an apparent attempt to claim his pension.

The deceased pensioner was described in reports as being “propped up” by the men as they walked into the building in County Carlow on Friday morning.

The outlandish series of events began when one of the men entered the post office at about 11.30am on Friday, asking to collect a pension payment for an older man, the Irish Times reported. He was refused, with staff informing him that the pensioner would have to be present in order for the money to be handed over.

Author(s): Clea Skopeliti

Publication Date: 22 Jan 2022

Publication Site: The Guardian

Ivermectin: Much More Than You Wanted To Know

Link:https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/ivermectin-much-more-than-you-wanted

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Excerpt:


About ten years ago, when the replication crisis started, we learned a certain set of tools for examining studies.

Check for selection bias. Distrust “adjusting for confounders”. Check for p-hacking and forking paths. Make teams preregister their analyses. Do forest plots to find publication bias. Stop accepting p-values of 0.049. Wait for replications. Trust reviews and meta-analyses, instead of individual small studies.

These were good tools. Having them was infinitely better than not having them. But even in 2014, I was writing about how many bad studies seemed to slip through the cracks even when we pushed this toolbox to its limits. We needed new tools.

I think the methods that Meyerowitz-Katz, Sheldrake, Heathers, Brown, Lawrence and others brought to the limelight this year are some of the new tools we were waiting for.

Part of this new toolset is to check for fraud. About 10 – 15% of the seemingly-good studies on ivermectin ended up extremely suspicious for fraud. Elgazzar, Carvallo, Niaee, Cadegiani, Samaha. There are ways to check for this even when you don’t have the raw data. Like:

The Carlisle-Stouffer-Fisher method: Check some large group of comparisons, usually the Table 1 of an RCT where they compare the demographic characteristics of the control and experimental groups, for reasonable p-values. Real data will have p-values all over the map; one in every ten comparisons will have a p-value of 0.1 or less. Fakers seem bad at this and usually give everything a nice safe p-value like 0.8 or 0.9.

GRIM – make sure means are possible given the number of numbers involved. For example, if a paper reports analyzing 10 patients and finding that 27% of them recovered, something has gone wrong. One possible thing that could have gone wrong is that the data are made up. Another possible thing is that they’re not giving the full story about how many patients dropped out when. But something is wrong.

But having the raw data is much better, and lets you notice if, for example, there are just ten patients who have been copy-pasted over and over again to make a hundred patients. Or if the distribution of values in a certain variable is unrealistic, like the Ariely study where cars drove a number of miles that was perfectly evenly distributed from 0 to 50,000 and then never above 50,000.

Author(s): Scott Alexander

Publication Date: 17 Nov 2021

Publication Site: Astral Codex Ten at substack

Arizona IMO Seeks Bankruptcy Protection From IUL Fraud Fight

Link:https://insurancenewsnet.com/innarticle/bankrupt-arizona-imo-at-center-of-iul-fraud-fight

Excerpt:

A prolific pension fraud scheme that spread to the insurance industry before being shut down by federal investigators continues to produce fresh lawsuits.

And it also continues to claim new victims — the latest being Shurwest, a successful Scottsdale, Ariz., independent marketing organization. Shurwest filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Aug. 31 after executives realized “there’s not going to be anything left,” one of its attorneys said.

According to bankruptcy documents, Shurwest faces 38 pending lawsuits in state and federal courts.

Author(s): John Hilton

Publication Date: 6 Oct 2021

Publication Site: Insurance News Net

TK Newsletter: Introducing “Racket of the Week”

Link: https://taibbi.substack.com/p/tk-newsletter-introducing-racket

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Excerpt:

In 2007, before the crash, Goldman, Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein even inadvertently paid tribute to one of the most ancient scams — the pig in the poke — when he ordered subordinates to start selling off the mortgage-backed “cats and dogs” on his company’s books. This detail, which came out in a Senate investigation of Goldman’s “Big Short,” let the “cat out of the bag” about the real value of mortgage-backed securities.

In 2021, we’re seeing a surge in con-like corruption cases once again, many involving old-school ripoffs. An economy puffed up by the steroid enhancement of Fed support has led to a great flowering of such creative grifts. Some are not terribly accessible to non-financial audiences at first glance, so to make it a bit easier to keep track of new cases coming in, I’m creating a new feature, “Racket of the Week.”

We had a cartoonist draw up icons for a key system, which will help explain how and if the story covered contains elements of common street rackets.

Author(s): Matt Taibbi

Publication Date: 7 May 2021

Publication Site: TK News