Thursday, June 19, 2014

No. 000025 R's and D/s agree: Post should fire Tony Messenger and hire a Forensic Accountant North Carolina Treasurer, Accused of Malfeasance , Defends Secrecy of Private Equity Investments | naked capitalism

The Post is to be congratulated for ending George Will as a columnist but don't stop there.

Please show Tony Messenger the door and be the first paper in America to hire a forensic accountant.

You think not, consider this story.

North Carolina Treasurer, Accused of Malfeasance , Defends Secrecy of Private Equity Investments | naked capitalism:
Private equity has become a political football in North Carolina due to the release of a report commissioned by the State Employees Association of North Carolina and prepared by former SEC investigator Ted Siedle that slams the current Treasurer, Janet Cowell, in her role as sole trustee for the state pension. He accuses her of supporting a “pay to play” system as well as failing to curb abuses and promoting a secrecy system essential to hiding them. He also estimates that her oversight failures have cost North Carolina $6.8 billion during her term in office. The union has also filed an SEC complaint against Cowell over her pension fund investments and misleading reporting.
From Siedle’s report:
The profound lack of transparency related to these risky so-called “alternative” investments provides investment managers ample opportunities to charge excessive fees, carry out transactions on behalf of the pension on unfavorable terms, misuse assets, or even steal them outright…..Cowell’s efforts to thwart disclosure have helped mask potential violations including, but not limited to the following: fraudulent representations related to the performance of alternative investments; concealment and intentional understatement of $400 million in annual alternative investment fees and expenses to date;concealment of approximately $180 million in placement agent compensation; the charging of bogus private equity fees; violations of securities broker-dealer registration requirements related to private equity transaction fees; securities and tax law violations regarding investment management fee waivers and monitoring fees; self-dealing involving alternative investment managers; mystery investor liquidity and information preferences, amounting to licenses to steal from TSERS; pension investment consultant conflicts of interest; predatory lending and life settlement related fraud.
Further, the Treasurer has invested billions of dollars of pension assets in North Carolina private equity funds and companies via an initiative with dubious economic prospects and which has the markings of political influence-peddling.
In our opinion, billions in TSERS investments can only be explained by the improper collateral benefits they provide to the Treasurer — as opposed to any supposed investment merit.
Put simply, my concern is what I know and I don't know.

The State, local government, and our numerous special purpose districts have billions in pension fund investments. Yet none of us know the newspaper story, the by whom, when, where, why, and how of these investments, the fees earned, to whom paid, and so forth.

Bring newspapers into the 21st Century. I'll bet most every reader would agree, we would all sleep better at night if the Post fired Tony Messenger and hired a forensic accountant.