Richard Cherry, CIO of the $11.5 billion pension plan for the Utah State Retirement Systems, Salt Lake City, was placed on administrative leave with pay after a state report revealed possible conflicts of interest and insider trading allegations, confirmed Robert Newman, executive director. The suspension follows a report issued earlier this week by the state Office of Legislative Auditor General that said Mr. Cherry may have made personal investments based on privileged information and may have influenced external plan managers to invest in small companies in which he had investment commitments. Mr. Newman said the system hired outside legal counsel to investigate the allegations; Wayne Welsh, legislative auditor general, said the report was also turned over to the SEC and the state Division of Securities to determine if any state or federal laws had been violated.
Mr. Welsh said the suspension was issued by the systems board of trustees; Mr. Newman would not comment. Calls to Mr. Cherrys office were redirected to Bruce H. Cundick, assistant investment officer, and were not returned by press time. Francis Wikstrom, Mr. Cherrys attorney, did not return calls seeking comment by press time.