Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, in her first public event focusing on pensions, announced today that more than $90 million in pension assets were recouped since October 1996. As a result of a multiagency effort to investigate retirement fund abuse, 109 people in 70 cases were charged, convicted or sentenced. The investigations targeted the $3.5 trillion held by private pension plans.
Overall, the Labor Department has recouped $322 million through its enforcement program.
Most cases involve officials of small and midsized companies who embezzled assets, the Labor Department reported.
The SEC needs to speed up its examination of the shareholder proposal process if a reform proposal is to be implemented in time for the next proxy season, said SEC Commissioner Steven M.H. Wallman in a letter to Rep. Thomas J. Manton, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Finance and Hazardous Materials subcommittee. Any changes the agency recommends might come too late to let investors express their views on workplace issues to companies in the 1998 annual meeting season, he wrote. The SEC is required to submit recommendations to Congress before Oct. 11.
SEC policy now lets companies exclude any shareholder proposals dealing with workplace issues. If examination of the proposal process cannot be handled more quickly, the agency should simply change the policy, Mr. Wallman wrote.
International Paper Co. pension fund, Purchase, N.Y., hopes to decide on a consultant by June to help with the asset allocation study it is conducting, said Robert Hunkeler, director of investments. The pension fund, with $3.5 billion in assets, does not currently have any consultant on retainer, Mr. Hunkeler said.
The Fairfax County 457 plan, Fairfax, Va., will issue RFPs in June or July for bundled and unbundled service providers for the $100 million plan. No timetable for responses to the county purchasing & supply division was established. County officials expect to complete the hiring process by the end of the summer. A fund spokeswoman declined to name the current service providers. The fund is conducting the search to determine what services are available.
CORRECTION: Riggs Investment Management did not claim former CIO Robert A. Von Pentz stole a proprietary investment computer model for his new company, as was reported in Wednesday's P&I Daily. The firm claimed he took too much credit for creating it. A federal district court in Washington, however, ruled that Mr. Von Pentz created the model and deserved all the credit.