My name is Dean Dennis, Retired, 35 years with Cincinnati Public Schools. Today, I'm going to address you as ORTA President.
I'm going to read some experts from the 2023 David Sirota article in The Guardian: US pension funds are on the brink of implosion – and Wall Street is ignoring it. "In general, private equity firms use pension money to buy up and restructure companies to then sell them at a higher price than they were purchased. In between buying and selling, there are no transparent metrics for valuing the purchased asset - private equity firms can manufacture an alleged value to tell pension investors (and there’s evidence they inflate valuations when seeking new investments)." Another excerpt, "valuation and fee terms in contracts between private equity firms and public pensions are kept secret, exempt from open records laws. With that in mind, the new warnings are simple: private equity firms may have told their pension officials that their assets were worth much more than they actually are, all while the firms were skimming billions of dollars of fees off retirees’ money."
Last excerpt, "Ohio’s state auditor, Keith Faber, just issued a report sounding an alarm about state pension officials keeping private equity contracts secret – a practice replicated in states across the country."
Why am I bringing this to your attention?
Last month, I passed out Ohio Revised Code 3307.15. It is titled Investment and fiduciary duties of board. Once again, the code states, "any statement of financial position distributed by the board shall include the fair value, as the statement date, of all investments held by the board under this section." When I presented, I expressed that when you are unable to audit over 20% of our investments, and when the General Partner tells you (the Limited Partner) the value of your investment, and when you don't have access to the non-disclosure agreements of your investments; I believe these become illegal investments and holding them in our portfolio is actionable.
So, Board members, what is your threshold for complying with ORC 3307.15? Does management share the non-disclosure agreements with you? Can you verify the fair value of these investments? Remember Panda and how and when you found out.
In the 30 days since I brought this to your attention, ORTA has sought and received a legal opinion. This legal opinion supports our beliefs that STRS Alternative Investments and possibly STRS Real Estate investments are not in compliance with 3307.15.
We are bringing this to the Board's attention in good faith. We are asking for a public response.