Ashbel C. Williams Jr. was reaffirmed by trustees as executive director and chief investment officer of the $149.7 billion Florida State Board of Administration, Tallahassee, said John Kuczwanski, the board's communications manager.
The three trustees — Rick Scott, governor; Jeff Atwater, state CFO; and Pam Bondi, attorney general — voted without comment to retain Mr. Williams. State statute requires board trustees to reaffirm his appointment annually.
Mr. Williams has been in his current position since October 2008.
Concerns trustees may have had regarding Mr. Williams' role in a decision to retain a hedge fund and on oversight of the FSBA's chief risk and compliance officer were addressed, Mr. Kuczwanski said.
Two independent panels — the board's audit committee and its investment advisory council — both found neither Mr. Williams nor anyone else at FSBA had improper influence in the FSBA's commitment last year of $125 million to the Starboard Value and Opportunity Fund, a corporate governance activist hedge fund, Mr. Kuczwanski said.
State Sen. Mike Fasano reviewed the issue because of reports Mr. Williams, when he worked in the private sector, knew Thomas W. Strauss, president and CEO of Ramius, which in March 2011 announced plans to spin off the business that became Starboard, Mr. Kuczwanski said, adding Mr. Strauss isn't connected with Starboard.
The FSBA began considering the Starboard commitment before Mr. Williams was hired, Mr. Kuczwanski said.
In addition, the IAC is expected to approve at its meeting Friday a recommendation made by Crowe Horwath to have the board's chief risk and compliance officer report directly to board trustees and the IAC. Eric Nelson, chief risk and compliance officer , would also continue to report to Mr. Williams.
The additional oversight would ensure trustees would hire future chief risk and compliance officers and would set the compensation for position, created in 2010. Crowe Horwath is an auditing firm hired to review FSBA's compliance, control and oversight activities in investment management activities and other operations.