New York pension money ‘held hostage’ by Vladimir Putin - Dailyforextrading

New York pension money ‘held hostage’ by Vladimir Putin - Dailyforextrading

New York employees and taxpayers are unwittingly financing Russian companies and the oligarch pals of Vladimir Putin with at least $519 million invested in assets now frozen by the war-mongering dictator, The Post has learned.

City and state pension systems have pledged to sell off the holdings in protest of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, but Moscow has prohibited foreign investors from dumping the stocks.

“Putin is a thug and he’s holding our money hostage,” said Gregory Floyd, a Teamsters union leader and trustee of the New York City Employee Retirement System, NYCERS.

New York City’s five pension systems – covering teachers, cops, firefighters and other city employees – have invested a total $284.5 million in 33 publicly traded Russian stocks, according to records released to The Post by city Comptroller Brad Lander’s office.

On Feb. 25, the market value of the Russian assets was $185.9 million, nearly $100 million less than the purchase price, the latest available records show.

Lander’s office says it can’t put a finger on what the Russian stocks are worth today.

“The market remains closed to all non-Russian investors,” spokeswoman Shaquana Chaneyfield said. “Strong sanctions are in place that prohibits us from transacting any Russian securities. Given that context and constantly shifting rules in the Russian market, an accurate assessment of their current value is not available at this time.”

In addition to the NYC pension systems, the New York State Common Retirement Fund had an estimated $110.8 million in publicly traded Russian securities as of March 1, when state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli ordered a review.

On March 25, he called for divestment from the “unacceptably high investment risk.” A spokesman did not give the current value of the securities.

The New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, NYSTERS, which represents public-school teachers outside of NYC, passed a resolution on March 4 to divest Russian-related assets worth $125 million. It did not give the current market value.

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“They’re just trapped,” John Murphy, former executive director of NYCERS, said of the pension systems. “There is a risk that they will lose all their money on these companies.”

Even if the pension systems could divest, “They couldn’t sell at any reasonable price. There’s no market for the securities because of global outrage over the war,” said Edward Siedle, a former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer and investigator.

The city and state’s $519 million is just 0.1 percent of the total $263.2 billion the city pension systems manage as of March.

The state employee pension system’s $110.8 million in Russian stocks, as estimated March 1, comes to .03 of its $279.7 billion in assets. And the state teachers’ pension system had Russian stocks worth $125 million on March 4 — or .08 percent of its $152.4 billion in assets.

But the publicly traded Russian investments are likely “just the tip of the iceberg,” Siedle said.

City and state pension systems, in hopes of making a profit, enter secretive contracts with private equity, hedge funds and real-estate investment firms that do not disclose where they sink hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Given the lack of transparency, I seriously doubt their Russian holdings are limited to the publicly traded securities they’ve disclosed,” Siedle said.

The NYC comptroller’s office makes public the names of private investment firms and the amount of money they manage – but not the specific investments. A Freedom of Information Law request for any Russian investments managed by the firms was denied.

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Matthew Sweeney, a spokesman for DiNapoli, said as part of the review “we communicated our concerns to managers (including private equity managers) not to invest in Russia.” Source: NYpost




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