State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald says there’s no way to "sugar coat" the facts. He’s very concerned about the status of millions of dollars in retirement funds the state has invested in a California firm that’s under federal investigation.
The Iowa Public Employees Retirement System — commonly called IPERS and pronounced EYE-pers — hired Westridge Capital Management to invest over $300 million. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the firm.
IPERS has cancelled its contract with Westridge Capital Managmeent and demanded the return of its assets. Treasurer Fitzgerald is threatening legal action if the funds are not retrieved in the next week or so.
The IPERS money held by Westridge represents about two percent of IPERS investments and managers of the state retirement fund say current benefits are not in danger. The treasurer, though, says he’s "very, very concerned" and considers the $339 million "at risk."
The IPERS fund had over $23 billion in investments in 2007, the last year for which data is available. More than half of the retirees who get IPERS checks worked in education. In 2007, nearly 85,000 retirees were receiving IPERS benefits.