Amerindo Investment Advisors' pension plan clients are examining their investments with the firm now that founders Alberto Vilar and Gary Tanaka were removed from their duties at Amerindo Funds Inc. after being charged with fraud last week.
Thomas Lopez, CIO of the $12 billion Los Angeles Fire & Police Pension System, said he is working on adding Amerindo as an "emergency item" to the agenda for Thursday's board meeting in light of the management changes at the firm. Amerindo runs a $363 million concentrated technology and biotechnology portfolio for the fund. Amerindo has been "one of our best all-time performing equity managers," Mr. Lopez said.
Ken Schuster, vice president and treasurer at Novartis Corp., New York, said he was reviewing the situation but declined to comment further. Amerindo is a manager for Novartis' $1.7 billion defined contribution plan, according to the Money Market Directory.
UNOVA Inc., Everett, Wash., offers the Amerindo Technology D Fund as an investment option in its $325 million 401(k) plan. Paula Bauert, plan administrator, said the company will "certainly investigate and get information out to our participants and inform them of the developments."
According to MMD, Amerindo also manages money for Johnson & Johnson's $4.28 billion defined benefit plan; it runs a small-cap growth portfolio for the $2.6 billion Bayer Corp. defined benefit plan; and it manages equities for FedEx Corp.'s $7.7 billion pension plan. James K. Martin, director of trust investments at Bayer, Pittsburgh; William Rauh, director of pension funds at Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J.; and Loren Jensen, staff director for retirement investments at FedEx, Memphis, also would not comment.
The independent board of the Amerindo Funds rescinded the authority of Messrs. Vilar and Tanaka to give any instruction with respect the Amerindo Technology D fund or its assets, according to documents filed Tuesday with the SEC. The board removed Mr. Tanaka as president of Amerindo Funds and Mr. Vilar as CEO, effective May 27. Dana Smith, the fund's chief compliance officer, was named acting president of the fund.
Mr. Vilar was charged by U.S. postal inspectors in New York late last week, accused of fraudulently using $5 million in client funds. He and Mr. Tanaka were each charged in two separate complaints on counts related to scheming to defraud, obtaining money under false pretenses and wiring client funds to convert the money to personal use.
The Amerindo office in New York directed media inquiries to spokesman John Sayak at the Dilenschneider Group, a public relations firm. Mr. Sayak did not comment beyond statements that have been issued by the company. Frederick Hafetz, a lawyer representing Mr. Vilar, did not return a call.