Christopher Bower and alternative investment consulting and money management firm Pacific Corporate Group are suing the lawyer, his law firm and the consulting firm CalPERS hired to investigate the use of placement agents by the $254.9 billion pension fund's money managers.
Mr. Bower, acting as his own attorney, filed the lawsuit March 11 in the Los Angeles Superior Court against Philip Khinda, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson, the law firm that led the investigation, and consulting firm Navigant Consulting, seeking unspecified damages alleging defamation and interference with PCG's contract with the California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento.
The complaint alleges that the defendants improperly used their assignments with CalPERS to “unfairly leverage settlements, disgorge fees, and reduce fees to their financial benefit.”
In an e-mail, Mr. Khinda referred queries to a firm spokeswoman, who sent the following statement from the firm and Mr. Khinda: “Among other deficiencies, the claims in Mr. Bower's filing are baseless. We anticipate a rapid and successful dismissal of this lawsuit. … California law is clear — you cannot squelch free speech on issues in the public interest with retaliatory lawsuits.”
“CalPERS hired Steptoe & Johnson to conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of the activities which were in question at the time,” Brad Pacheco, CalPERS spokesman in an e-mail. As a result of the special review and under the leadership of CalPERS' current board of administration and executive leadership, many significant reforms have been implemented to make CalPERS a more transparent, accountable and sound pension system for California's public employees and taxpayers.”