Alternative Investment

Ohio state auditor said pension fund following law in calling alts fees trade secrets

The report also noted that the retirement system’s most recent actuarial audit and fiduciary audit, both completed in 2022, were several years overdue. State law requires audits be completed every 10 years, and the most recent actuarial audit took place in 2009, and the most recent fiduciary audit, in 2008. The report recommends the Ohio Retirement Study Council and the retirement system work together to ensure future audits are performed in accordance with guidelines.

A May 2021 lawsuit filed in Ohio Supreme Court to force the retirement system to release unredacted reports related to the pension fund’s alternative investments is still pending.

The writ of mandamus complaint was filed that month by Edward Siedle, attorney and president of Benchmark Financial Services Inc., against the pension fund and CEM Benchmarking Inc., seeking unredacted reports related to the pension fund’s alternative investment management fees, costs and expenses.

Benchmark Financial Services said in that complaint: “CEM also redacted data about STRS’s performance, including investment costs, outside money manager fees, and performance information on STRS’s investments. All that information is provided by STRS staff to CEM , which CEM then analyzes. CEM offered no explanation as to how it can claim that STRS’s own internal data can be CEM’s trade secret.”

At the time of the complaint, pension fund spokesman Nick Treneff said in an email: “STRS Ohio has provided more than 800 documents in response to the public records request we received in late February — totaling more than 22,000 pages. This includes documents from CEM Benchmarking. We have fully complied with the law in response to this request.”

Mr. Siedle said in a phone interview Tuesday, “We’re still pushing to see the top-secret documents they won’t allow the teachers to see.”

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