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NC State Employees Association 'Blows Whistle' On Pension Fund

stack of money
Flickr user 401(K)2013

An Ohio-based financial services company claims North Carolina’s Pension Fund is one of the worst managed in the country. 

Benchmark Financial Services was hired by the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) to conduct a forensic investigation of the state pension fund.

Ted Siedle is president of Benchmark.  He accuses State Treasurer Janet Cowell of secretly entering into agreements with Wall Street money managers and not revealing where $30 billion dollars in pension assets are invested.

“Thirty-five percent of the pension now has been taken off the radar screen and put into a black box or black hole, or whatever you want to call it, where the public is not allowed to know what’s going on with the money," said Siedle.

In a statement, Cowell said, upon brief examination, the State Employees Association report is simply wrong and that a full accounting of every dollar of the pension fund is in her annual report.

In November of last year, North Carolina Retirement Systems made the top 25 in the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute's Public Investors 100 List.  North Carolina was ranked 21, one of only two U.S. funds to make the list in 2013.

'A full accounting of every dollar of the pension fund is in the annual report.' Janet Cowell, NC State Treasurer

"Generally speaking, there's enough money going into the pension fund, however, the money that is in the pension fund is being mismanaged to the tune of about $7 billion in losses so far," said Siedle.  "In that respect, the pension fund is one of the worst managed in the country."

Siedle and SEANC wants the pension fund audited.  In the meantime, SEANC has filed a complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of the Whistleblower.

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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