Retirement Investigation

On Jan. 6, 2014, SEANC announced that it had enlisted an independent, nationally known expert in retirement system forensics, Edward Siedle, to conduct a comprehensive review of the $86 billion Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System for conflicts of interest related to TSERS investments and potential violations of the federal securities laws.

SEANC's Retiree Council and Executive Committee voted unanimously to call for the investigation. It comes on the heels of a $1 million “placement agent” report requested and issued by the state Treasurer Janet Cowell which focused on secret payments to intermediaries who helped secure retirement fund business — referred to as “pay to play” by the Securities and Exchange Commission — during former Treasurer Richard Moore’s administration. Given the improprieties found in the treasurer’s report, SEANC wants to learn more and broaden its review of TSERS through the present.

INVESTIGATION RESULTS ANNOUNCED

On April 22, 2014, SEANC held a press conference to announce the findings of Edward Siedle's forensic investigation of the $87 billion Teacher's and State Employees' Retirement System.

Among his main findings were $30 billion unaccounted for by State Treasurer Janet Cowell, hundreds of millions of dollars in fees to money managers not reported to the General Assembly as required by law, and other violations of state and federal securities laws.

Among the recommendations of the report are a complete audit of the fund, which has never been done, the elimination of the sole fiduciary governance structure and a complete reform of the pension plan's structure and reporting guidelines.

Additionally, SEANC also filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of the Whistleblower, calling for an investigation into Cowell and her management of the fund.

"This report shows the dangers of the sole fiduciary governance model for the state pension plan and the need for reform," SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope said. "Not only can State Treasurer Janet Cowell not account for $30 billion, she is refusing to disclose hundreds of millions in fees, as required by law, and her high-risk investment experiments are hurting North Carolina taxpayers, as well as employees and retirees. SEANC is calling on the General Assembly to take up legislation to reform this system. SEANC also is calling for a full audit and an SEC investigation into Cowell’s management of this $87 billion fund."

To see the highlights and recommendations, click here.

Click here to read the full report by Benchmark Financial Services, commissioned by SEANC -  "North Carolina Pension's Secretive Alternative Investment Gamble: A Sole Fiduciary's Failed 'Experiment'"

Public Records Requests

Public Records Received

Siedle letter to N.C. State Auditor Beth Wood regarding possible violations of law

SEANC Releases

Press

  • March 4, 2014 NC pension fund fees criticized by SEANC consultant ###em/em### 
  • March 4, 2014 SEANC Takes a Shot at Cowell ###em/em###February 28, 2014 SEANC audit claims NC pension paying exhorbitant management fees WRAL
  • February 10, 2014 Open Government Groups, Media And Workers Rally For Pension Disclosure In Rhode Island, California and North Carolina Forbes.com
  • January 30, 2014 Class Action Lawyers Compliance Cops To North Carolina and Connecticut Mega-Public Pensions Forbes.com
  • January 20, 2014 North Carolina considers end to sole trustee role Pensions & Investments 
  • January 13, 2014 SEANC to treasury: hand over your public records Triangle Business Journal
  • January 7, 2014 SEC expert hired to investigate NC pension fund Triangle Business Journal
  • January 6, 2014 NC employees' union plans pension review following outside report on some past transactions ###em/em###
  • January 6, 2014 SEANC hires forensic investigator to look at pension fund ###em/em###
  • January 6, 2014 SEANC hires forensic investigator to look at pension fund ###em/em###
  • January 6, 2014 SEANC hiring outside reviewer of pension system WRAL
  • January 6, 2014 Siedle's firm hired by North Carolina employees union to probe pension system Providence Journal