US - Thirty-six attorney general's offices are set to create a multi-state task force to explore pension fund abuse across the country, New York State attorney general Andrew Cuomo has said.
Cuomo said: "The task force will allow us to have a unified, efficient method for gathering information as we fight to combat corruption and restore transparency and integrity to public pension funds."
The move comes after Cuomo's office had issued subpoenas to over 100 investment firms and their agents in the latest development of the attorney general's expanding investigation into alleged corruption and kickback schemes involving the New York State and City pension funds.
The attorney general's office said its investigation found that 40 to 50% of agents obtaining investments from New York pension funds were unregistered, while under state and federal law, securities brokers are generally required to be licensed and registered with a broker-dealer in order to protect the investing public from unscrupulous and unqualified brokers.
"These subpoenas are the essential next step in our widening investigation into the corruption of public dollars at New York pension funds," said Cuomo.
"The troubling pattern of unlicensed agents highlights yet another systemic weakness in New York's pension fund, creating a situation which is fraught with peril and prone to abuse. This investigation will continue until public trust has been restored and reform has been achieved."
New York City comptroller William Thompson said he fully supported Cuomo's investigation on this issue and would provide any assistance needed. He added: "I have already recommended to all of the City pension funds that they immediately suspend the use of any placement agents, firms or middlemen in their investments."
Meanwhile, Connecticut treasurer Denise Nappier announced that she had severed the state's relationship with private equity advisor Aldus Capital, a firm that has been named in several pay-to-play investigations in the US (www.globalpensions.com: 1/05.09).
Nappier said: "In my judgment, Aldus Capital cannot remain focused on its Connecticut engagement under these circumstances, and that is the reason for my taking this action at this time. I commenced termination of Aldus Capital in order to protect Connecticut's interest out of an abundance of caution."
In addition, the Los Angeles Fire and Policemen Pension Fund is set to terminate its contract with Aldus. In a memo to be discussed at 7 May LAFPP board meeting, LAFPP general manager Michael Perez recommended the board to end such agreement, following the Securities and Exchange Commission charges against Aldus.
Partner Insight: In recent years, pensions administrators have seen scheme member engagement increase significantly. The advent of Pensions Freedoms in 2015 and the increased choices faced by members have led to a sea-change in the levels and types of...
Purna Bhudia looks at how the PPF's investment strategy has evolved, especially in the area of credit
Two consultancies have reported decreases in defined benefit (DB) transfer quotation requests in Q3, and said guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) equalisation could impact transfer activity.
The Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) and Royal London have proposed a "pensions pound" to "radically simplify" defined benefit (DB) pensions rights.