SEC inquiry could lead to Fla. oversight changes

Nov 6, 2009

Brent Kallestad

Associated Pres


Two top Florida Democrats want changes to the makeup of the board that oversees Florida's $130 billion investment portfolio now under scrutiny from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

State Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, said Friday he wants Florida's agriculture commissioner on the oversight board instead of the attorney general - an office he's seeking.

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has pushed for adding a financial expert to the panel that consists of herself, the governor and attorney general.

Sink has had concerns about "governance, transparency, audit processes and risk management policies" at the State Board of Administration since a run on SBA's local government pool two years ago.

"In other states, the attorney general makes it their duty to keep a watchful eye on the pension fund making sure the people's savings are secure," Gelber said. "This will give the Attorney General more arms length oversight."

The SEC launched its initial inquiry in February 2008 and informed the SBA in July 2008 with a formal order of private investigation, a required step in the legal process that allows them to subpoena records and take sworn statements.

"There isn't anything new," SBA executive director Ash Williams said Friday. "The document itself was held as confidential and the trustees were advised that it was ongoing."

The trustees presently consist of the governor, CFO and attorney general. All have been updated on the SEC investigation, according to representatives from their offices.

A spokesman for the SEC, John Nester, declined comment Friday on its investigation.

Williams said the local government fund being investigated has since been outsourced to an SEC-registered receiver, Pittsburgh-based Federated Advisers, and is performing well.

"We've completely redone all the investment policies to make the fund as safe as possible," said Williams, who was brought back to Florida last year to take over the management of the SBA.

The SBA reported Wednesday that the fund's assets increased from $99.6 billion to $110 billion during the quarter ending Sept. 30.




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