Ohio Pensions Seek to Lead Lawsuit Against Firm Accused of Fraud

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The State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS) and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) are looking to be lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit against an investment firm that allegedly misled investors about its performance and financial state.

The alleged fraud led to investment losses of $7.5 million for the two pension funds, as well as billions in losses for other investors.

From the Pike County Daily:

Following a recent review of securities and accounting fraud allegations, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that he has filed a motion for two of Ohio’s pension funds to lead a class of investors in a lawsuit against American Realty Capital Properties (ARCP), Inc.

The news comes after the company, a real estate investment trust based in New York City, disclosed that ARCP officials intentionally misstated company financials and subsequently covered up the accounting irregularities, resulting in approximately $3 billion in losses for the company’s shareholders, including State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS) and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS).

“The information American Realty Capital Properties provided pension fund managers was false, misleading, and purposefully hid accounting fraud,” said Attorney General DeWine. “This fraud inflated the true value of the company, causing Ohio teachers and public employees to lose millions of hard-earned retirement dollars.”

The motion alleges that ARCP issued materially false and misleading financial statements by, among other things, overstating reported adjusted funds from operations and then intentionally covering up their impropriety. In addition, it alleges that ARCP improperly accounted for various accruals and expenses that materially affected the company’s reported earnings per share. As a result of ARCP’s improper accounting and cover-up, key performance metrics were overstated and reported net losses for the reporting periods ending June 30, 2014 were understated. Revelation of this alleged accounting fraud by ARCP on October 28, 2014 resulted in losses in the company’s stock value of approximately $3 billion. STRS and OPERS lost in excess of $7.5 million as a result of the alleged fraud.

There are several lawsuits against the firm stemming from the fraud allegations. The motion filed by the Ohio Attorney General would consolidate those lawsuits and name the Ohio pension funds as lead plaintiffs.

 

Photo by Joe Gratz via Flickr CC License

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