Friday, July 10, 2009

Retiree groups keep consultant

Two of the larger statewide retirement systems using an investment consultant under scrutiny by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission say they are sticking by the consulting group.

The Consulting Services Group, which advises five Louisiana systems, denies claims by the SEC, which has threatened a lawsuit regarding alleged kickbacks given to broker-dealers for directing a New York retirement system’s pension funds to them.

State Sen. Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City and chairman of the Senate Retirement Committee, said CSG’s Executive Vice President and co-founder Joe Meals brought the reports up at a recent meeting of municipal employees’ systems in Alabama.

“He assured us that they have opened up their books, opened up everything,” Gautreaux said. “He felt confident that everything will be fine.”

CSG is also listed as the investment consultant to the Harbor Police Retirement System, the New Orleans Fire Fighters’ Pension and Relief Fund and the Registrar of Voters Employees’ Retirement System.

Earlier this year, the Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System asked its investment firm to resign after allegations were made that the firm participated in a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme.

The state employees’ investments were fine, said the system’s chief investment officer, Bobby Beale. But everyone has to exercise a certain degree of caution when dealing with investments, he said.

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