New York City

Report slams NY pension system’s hedge fund investments

October 18, 2016 By David Klepper The Associated Press
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli  AP Photo/Mike Groll, File

A scathing report issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration on Monday slammed Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for state pension fund investments in hedge funds that cost the state more than $1 billion in fees.

The analysis by Cuomo’s Department of Financial Services also concluded that when lackluster returns are factored in, hedge funds have cost the state retirement system $3.8 billion over eight years.

In a statement accompanying the report, Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo said that while other U.S. pension funds have reduced “overpriced and underperforming” hedge fund investments, DiNapoli’s office “has stood still and spent pension system funds chasing performance that continues to fall far short.”

The report is the latest back-and-forth between Cuomo and DiNapoli, both Democrats. DiNapoli on Friday criticized Cuomo’s economic development programs, saying a bid-rigging and bribery scandal shows a worrying lack of oversight.

Over the last fiscal year, the retirement system paid more than $150 million in fees to hedge fund managers who oversaw $8 billion in state assets. Management fees for other investments were far less, the report found.

A spokeswoman for DiNapoli called the report “uninformed and unprofessional,” noting that DiNapoli has reduced state involvement in hedge funds and made no new investments in more than a year.

“Unfortunately, the Department of Financial Services seems more interested in playing political games, so [it] remains unaware of actions taken by what is one of the best-managed and best-funded public pension funds in the country,” spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman said.

DiNapoli’s office in recent months has released audits criticizing Cuomo’s economic development initiatives. Speaking on public radio Friday, DiNapoli said the arrests of two former Cuomo advisers and prominent developers on corruption charges showed more scrutiny of the programs was needed.

Freeman said the authors of the report on hedge funds did not notify the Comptroller’s Office about the report until five minutes before it was emailed to reporters.

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