Meacham acts to protect public funds

From CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

At the urging of State Treasurer Scott Meacham, two public boards took action today to protect public funds and keep investment managers from making improper payments to public officials to secure lucrative state contracts.

Both boards voted to require full disclosure by potential public fund investment managers of fees paid to third-party marketing agents. The Oklahoma Pension Oversight Commission and the Tobacco Settlement Board of Investors, both chaired by Meacham, voted unanimously to require the disclosure by all firms seeking to manage investment of public funds.

In recent months, scandals have erupted in New York and New Mexico due to alleged improper payments made through third-party marketing agents to influence the placement of public funds for investment.

“We have a duty to protect and carefully manage the taxpayers’ money, and that includes making sure some public official’s pocket isn’t being lined by some investment firm seeking favors,” Meacham said.

“The spotlight of public scrutiny will help keep the process honest by requiring disclosure of the existence of third-party marketing agents and any fees paid to these agents that could potentially be used as a conduit for bribes.”

The tobacco investment board’s action will require the disclosure by all bidders for investment of Oklahoma’s share of the national tobacco settlement. More than $400 million is currently under investment.

The pension commission’s action urges all Oklahoma public pension boards to adopt policies requiring the disclosure. The pension systems are managing the investment of more than $14.6 billion.