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RI Retired Teachers Hire Forbes’ Siedle

Thursday, November 19, 2015

 

Edward Siedle

The Rhode Island Retired Teachers Association has hired Forbes columnist and Rhode Island pension critic Edward Siedle to serve as a liaison with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Former SEC lawyer Siedle was in Rhode Island on Wednesday to address a crowd of nearly 200 retirees at the Crown Plaza in Warwick during the morning session, and a smaller group of 25 later in the afternoon for a question and answer segment. 

"Today's speech was about turning up the heat, and the message I conveyed is the pension is being looted, the pension will not replenish itself, and you're going to take hits as the pension underperforms," said Sieldle. "Staying still is not an option."

Siedle recently crowd-funded his effort to conduct a second investigation into the Rhode island pension system, after releasing his first investigation "Wall Street's License to Steal" in 2013. 

Maintaining Pressure

Siedle wrote of the Retired Teachers Association desire to keep the pressure on the oversight of the fund management back in the fall.

"In September, when Diane Bucci, Legislative Chair of the Rhode Island Retired Teachers Association wrote to Kilmartin imploring him to investigate potential wrongdoing related to the pension, his office responded: “The Office of the Attorney General… has limited investigatory power. Among the areas that the office investigates are consumer complaints and matters related to insurance and public utilities. Our office does not investigate issues involving the solvency of the pension fund.”

 

Related Slideshow: RI Public Pension Reform: Wall Street’s License To Steal

See the key findings from Forbes' columnist Edward Siedle, who unveiled his investigative report into the RI pension system, "License to Steal," in October 2013.  

"The Employee Retirement System of Rhode Island has secretly agreed to permit hedge fund managers to keep the state pension in the dark regarding how its assets are being invested; to grant mystery hedge fund investors a license to steal, or profit at its expense using inside information; and to engage in potentially illegal nondisclosure practices," said Siedle.  

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Treasurer’s Lack of Transparency

 
"There has been a sinister pall of secrecy regarding fundamental investment information orchestrated by state officials and aided by key investment services providers. "
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"Whether retirees receive any COLA will depend upon both ERSRI’s funding level and the Fund’s actual investment returns—both of which are volatile, unpredictable and subject to manipulation by elected officials and others. The manipulation of both of these key goalposts has already begun. "

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SEC Should Investigate ERSRI’s Failure to Disclose Skyrocketing Investment Expenses 

 
"The Treasurer has intentionally withheld information about soaring investment fees which is material in assessing both whether ERSRI should invest in costly alternative investments and whether benefit cuts are necessary to improve pension funding."
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Lose-Lose: Alternative Investments Both Reduce Returns and Increase Risk 

 
"The Treasurer’s representations regarding the level of risk related to ERSRI’s hedge fund investments are wholly inconsistent with the hedge fund managers’own words."
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ERSRI Agrees To Be Kept In The Dark, Grants Mystery Investors Licenses to Steal and Consents To Potential Nondisclosure Illegalities 

 
"The outrageous nondisclosure policies detailed in the hedge fund offering documents cause these investments to be, at a minimum, inherently impermissible for a public pension, such as ERSRI, if not illegal."
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Heightened Risks Related To Hedge Fund Offshore Regulation And Custody

 
"There is no evidence the State Investment Commission was aware of, or ever considered, the unique risks related to foreign regulation of hedge funds."
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SEC Should Investigate Questions Surrounding ERSRI’s Point Judith Venture Investment

 
"The Treasurer has made numerous public statements regarding the performance of the Point Judith II fund she formerly managed and sold to ERSRI, as well as released summary performance figures which are strikingly divergent. [...] In order to prevent any possible confusion or misleading of investors, the SEC should investigate Point Judith II performance claims."
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Rhode Island Ethics Commission Opinion And “Blind Trust” Fail to Address Conflicts Regarding Point Judith Investment

 
"The Treasurer notably failed to mention in her letter to the Ethics Commission that the state was a limited partner in the Point Judith fund and may have broad rights in the fund that conflict with hers. Further, she may have special rights that permit her to profit at the state’s expense."
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SEC Should Investigate ERSRI Investment Consultant Conflicts, Payments From Money Managers

 
"The investment consultant retained to provide objective advice regarding alternatives, Cliffwater LLC, has disclosed in its SEC filings that it receives compensation from investment managers it recommends or selects for its clients, including Brown Brothers Harriman which manages $272 million for ERSRI."
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“Pay To Play” Placement Agent Abuses at ERSRI

 
"Rather than undertake an independent investigation in response to an SEC inquiry, ERSRI relied upon its then investment consultant, PCG, for objective advice regarding controversial placement agent fees—at a time when PCG itself was embroiled in a national pay-to-play scandal."
 
 

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