PSERS Considers Suing Aon for Miscalculating Returns

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/psers-considers-suing-aon-for-miscalculating-returns/

Excerpt:

At their board meeting last week, Pennsylvania’s Public School Employees’ Retirement System voted to hire law firm Blank Rome to help determine if it should sue Aon, an investment consultant the pension fund hired.

The potential suit concerns a calculation error Aon made that caused PSERS to inaccurately report its returns in December 2020. While initially the nine-year performance figure was reported to be 6.38%, a correction showed that it was in fact lower, and thus below the threshold needed to prevent increased contributions. When the miscalculation was revealed in March 2021, the pension fund’s beneficiaries were forced to increase their payments.

PSERS paid Aon $7.2 million for investment advice over the course of almost a decade. Currently, Aon is still employed by PSERS. Both the FBI and the SEC are investigating the miscalculation. PSERS is also under investigation for gifts given by Wall Street firms to PSERS employees.

Author(s): Anna Gordon

Publication Date: 16 May 2022

Publication Site: ai-CIO

How Much Is ‘Enough’?

Link:https://www.asppa-net.org/news/how-much-%E2%80%98enough%E2%80%99

Excerpt:

Looks like those hoping for some clarity on a threshold issue involving ERISA fee litigation will have to wait for another day.

I’m referring, of course, to last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court on the case of Hughes v. Northwestern University et al.—a case that the law firm of Schlichter Bogard & Denton—which seems to have “invented” this class of excessive fee litigation—said was having a “chilling effect” on this type of lawsuit, more precisely their ability to proceed to trial (or settlement). Consequently, ERISA fiduciaries were waiting anxiously for a ruling on the case, which involved allegations that Northwestern University had failed to comply with its fiduciary responsibilities with regard to the options available to plan participants. 

Indeed, the allegations in this case weren’t all that different from the litany transgressions outlined in any number of such cases over the years—but in making their case to be heard by the nation’s highest court the plaintiffs’ attorneys (the aforementioned law firm)—had noted (complained?) that suits “with virtually identical” claims were being dismissed out of hand, while other courts were allowing them to go to trial. This they claimed was “…not a factual disagreement about whether the specific allegations at issue clear the pleading hurdle,” but rather “a legal disagreement about where that hurdle should be set.” 

….

Consequently. some clarity as to how, and how much, must be established by those who file the suits before they get to take the issue(s) to trial is timely, to say the least. Or, said another way, how much is “enough.” 

….

Rather, the court had merely determined that there were some prudent alternatives on the menu, and that the participants could choose them if they had an issue with those that (allegedly) weren’t as expensive and that, for that district court, was enough.

Author(s): Nevin E Adams, JD

Publication Date: 3 Feb 2022

Publication Site: ASPPA

Three States, D.C. Sue Google Claiming Location Tracking Violates Users’ Privacy

Link:https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2022/01/25/650651.htm

Excerpt:

Texas, Indiana, Washington State and the District of Columbia sued Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Monday over what they called deceptive location-tracking practices that invade users’ privacy.

“Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access,” Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine’s office said in a statement.

Yet Google “continues to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data,” the statement said, calling the practice “a clear violation of consumers’ privacy.”

Author(s): David Shepardson and Doina Chiacu

Publication Date: 25 Jan 2022

Publication Site: Insurance Journal

Illinois Effort to Fix Ailing Local Pensions Faces Legal Hurdle

Link:https://www.bloombergquint.com/onweb/illinois-effort-to-fix-ailing-local-pensions-faces-legal-hurdle

Excerpt:

A court ruling as soon as this month will help determine the fate of one of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s key plans to ease the massive shortfall in local pension funds across the state. A 2019 law championed by Pritzker would merge about 650 local police and firefighter pensions with assets topping $16 billion into two funds to cut costs and improve returns.

….

The law set a June 30 deadline for the consolidation of the funds, but many of the local pensions are hesitating or even refusing to merge until they learn the outcome of litigation to block the combining. Three dozen current employees and retirees, along with 18 local retirement plans, filed a lawsuit in February in Illinois circuit court saying the consolidation violates the state constitution.

….

So far, however, the new Illinois Police Officers’ Pension Investment Fund hasn’t received any assets and expects to begin getting funds around March, said executive director Richard White. About 44% of the 357 downstate and suburban police funds that were supposed to be merged into the bigger pension plan haven’t even responded to requests for information, White said. 

Author(s): Shruti Singh

Publication Date: 2 Dec 2021

Publication Site: Bloomberg Quint

New York State Common Retirement Still Holds Boeing Stock, Despite Lawsuit

Link:https://www.ai-cio.com/news/new-york-state-common-retirement-still-holds-boeing-stock-despite-lawsuit/

Excerpt:

The New York State Common Retirement Fund and the Fire and Police Pension Association of Colorado (FPPA) agreed to a $237.5 million settlement with Boeing’s board after they sued the aerospace company’s board for failing to protect against safety risks related to its 737 Max jets. The money will be paid by the board director’s insurance companies to Boeing itself.

….

The exact reasons why NYS Common chose to hold the stock after suing the company are unknown, as the fund did not respond to a request for comment. However, it’s possible that the pension maintained its shares in order to play a role in restructuring Boeing. It’s taken that approach in the past with companies such as ExxonMobil. In part of the recent settlement between NYS Common and Boeing, the company has agreed to implement new safety measures, including an ombudsman program for employees.

Author(s): Anna Gordon

Publication Date: 9 Nov 2021

Publication Site: ai-CIO

The Curious Case Against Hedge Funds in Kentucky

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/the-curious-case-against-hedge-funds-in-kentucky/

Excerpt:

The lawsuit notes the difficult position the retirement system was in, saying that “there was no prudent investment strategy that would allow KRS to invest its way to significantly improved funded status,” and that “the trustees were trapped in a demographic/financial vise.” However, while acknowledging there was no prudent investment strategy for KRS to get out of the hole it was in, the plaintiffs are simultaneously critical of Carlson and the other defendants for taking what they consider to be “longshot imprudent risks.”

The lawsuit also criticizes the hedge funds of funds for not providing high enough returns for the entire KRS portfolio to meet or exceed its 7.75% assumed rate of return. However, the same could be said for fixed income and many other assets in the KRS portfolio. Broad hedge fund portfolios are generally created to reduce risk, not beat equity markets.

“The Black Boxes did not provide the investment returns trustees needed for KRS to return to or exceed on the average its AARIR [assumed annual rate of investment return] of 7.75%,” says the lawsuit, which is targeting approximately 3% of KRS’ overall investments, while saying they should carry the entire portfolio to meet or outperform a rate of return the state acknowledged as “unrealistic and unachievable.”

The lawsuit also claims the investments “lost millions of dollars in 2015 to 2016,” which was more than two years after Carlson left, and which was a particularly bad time period for the entire hedge fund industry. The lawsuit criticized one of the investments, known as the Henry Clay Fund, for providing “exceptionally large fees for Blackstone”; however, the suit also states that “the amount of the fees could not be calculated and were not disclosed.”

Author(s): Michael Katz

Publication Date: 15 Oct 2021

Publication Site: AI-CIO

Judge: Pension fund can’t claim Harvey, Illinois’ federal ARPA aid

Link: https://www.bondbuyer.com/news/judge-pension-fund-cant-claim-harvey-illinois-federal-arpa-aid

Excerpt:

A state judge refused to block distribution of Harvey, Illinois’ share of American Rescue Plan Act federal coronavirus aid relief funds after rejecting a pension fund’s claim to the money.

The financially stressed Chicago suburb, which has battled over the last decade with its public safety pension funds, Chicago, and bondholders over its obligations, settled a legal dispute in 2018 with its police and firefighters’ pension funds over past due payments. The settlement gives the funds a share of various funding that flows through the state government.

The firefighters’ fund recently sued Harvey to stake a claim to the ARPA money, arguing it is subject to the 10% claim on city tax and aid funds that are sent directly to the pension fund under the 2018 settlement. The fund asked the court to enjoin Comptroller Susana Mendoza, whose office manages the state’s pension intercept program, from distributing any funds until the case was argued.

Author(s): Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 28 June 2021

Publication Site: Bond Buyer

Schoolyard Justice in Federal Court

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/schoolyard-justice-in-federal-court-11623171249

Excerpt:

 The bank administered a loan of some $1 billion, sending payments from Revlon to the lenders. Citibank mistakenly sent a wire transfer of the entire principal amount due when it only intended a single installment.

Under established law, the money that Citibank wired should be repaid because it was sent by mistake. But U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman upset settled law and allowed lenders to keep the money on the ground that the recipients did not have notice that the funds had been sent erroneously. If that became the rule, it would upset the important relationships among lenders, borrowers and trusted intermediaries.

….

Mistakes like this occur with surprising frequency. In 2017, the German bank KfW mistakenly transferred $5.4 billion to lenders. In China, the bank Rural Commercial Bank in Changsha thought that a customer’s 10-digit account number was actually the amount of money to be transferred, and mistakenly sent 1.2 billion yuan (around $190 million) to the customer. Deutsche Bank recently sent $6 billion to a U.S.-based hedge fund in error. In all these cases, the banks recovered the errant funds transfers almost immediately.

Author(s): Jonathan Macey

Publication Date: 8 June 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

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

CalPERS Employee Accused of Embezzling $685,000 from Beneficiary Bank and CalPERS Accounts Hasn’t Been Arrested, Much the Less Prosecuted. Why the Cover Up?

Excerpt:

As you can see from the embedded filing below, CalPERS is suing Gloria Najera, a former employee it says embezzled $685,000 from beneficiaries, including, Wells Fargo style, from a beneficiary’s bank accounts.

The civil claim is sketchy on the timetable, but Najera was a clerical worker responsible for updating beneficiary addresses and bank direct deposit information. That apparently also gave her access to at least the last four digits in their Social Security numbers. Najera used this information to pilfer directly from the bank account of one beneficiary to the tune of nearly $69,000. For nine others, she diverted funds from dormant CalPERS accounts (where CalPERS had reason to think the beneficiary was still alive but had only out-of-date bank deposit information) to bank accounts controlled by Najera and co-conspirators.

Yet despite CalPERS allegedly informing the police about the theft back in January, the perp of this huge embezzlement of beneficiary trust funds hasn’t even been arrested, much the less charged.

CalPERS instead is taking the virtually unheard of approach of merely filing a civil suit, rather than letting a prosecutor file criminal charges, even though California law requires that a criminal court order full restitution on behalf of CalPERS.

Author(s): Yves Smith

Publication Date: 22 April 2021

Publication Site: naked capitalism

Ambac files motion to compel documents from actuary – Puerto Rico pensions

Document Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-lIsmyzEIiDvYXnYJtWw5kaCI25euLFk/view

Snippet:

Date Accessed: 21 April 2021

Shared by: Cate Long

Publication Site: Twitter and Google Drive

Singing River retirees file new lawsuit over failed pension. ‘It’s not fair,’ nurse says

Link: https://www.sunherald.com/news/local/counties/jackson-county/article250528304.html

Excerpt:

Singing River Health System retirees are learning to live on lower pensions than they expected as attorneys continue to press for financial damages from companies they believe are responsible.

A new lawsuit has been filed over the 2014 failure of the SRHS retirement plan, which caught hundreds of retirees and employees by surprise. Biloxi attorney Jim Reeves is suing accounting firm KPMG LLC and Transamerica Retirement Solutions on behalf of 272 members of the retirement plan.

Reeves said in a news release that the companies were paid “hundreds of thousands of dollars to help manage and audit the pension plan and to accurately communicate the status of the plan to members.”

Author(s): Anita Lee

Publication Date: 12 April 2021

Publication Site: SunHerald