Pacific Corporate Group of La Jolla, the long-time adviser to CalPERS and other big U.S. pension funds, is accusing one of its former employees “racketeering, illegal kickbacks, betrayal and deceit” for his role in a corruption scandal at the New York State Common Retirement Fund.
PCG and its former officer, Stephen J. Moseley, have locked horns in San Diego County Superior Court, trading charges and counter-charges in an unusually public spat in the staid world of pension management. I’ve posted the documents here.
Moseley fired the first shot by suing his former employer for refusing to pay the amounts he claims he is owed as a former officer. In his complaint, Moseley and his attorneys at Gordon & Rees accuse PCG and its founder, Christopher Bower, of misleading clients:
Defendants, through Christopher Bower, have engaged in a systematic scheme of hiding and concealing material facts from clients regarding investment opportunities which were sponsored by PCG. Once discovered, Defendants’ conduct contributed to the subsequent resignations of all partners in PCG Asset Management, including Plaintiff. In addition, Defendants, through Bower, have made a practice of misleading key PCG clients regarding staff size and turnover of PCG personnel, all in an effort to influence investment decisions in favor of PCG. Moreover, Defendants, through Bower, have fraudulently concealed Bowers’ interactions and relationships with various placement agents and intermediaries; fraudulently concealed Bowers’ interactions and relationships with current and former CalPERS board members including Alfred J. Villalobos; and denied and/or concealed the existence of material conflicts of interest. Defendants, through Bower, have used such acts to influence investment valuations and investment decisions, in order to advance the personal interests of Bower and certain unregistered placement agents in contravention of PCG’s fiduciary obligations.
PCG responded a few months later with guns blazing. It was Moseley, PCG says, who misled his employer by secretly paying kickbacks to officials at the New York state pension fund as a reward for in exchange for participating in a joint venture seeded in 2006 with $750 million from the New York State Common Retirement Fund. Moseley resigned shortly before the money was committed.
PCG last year settled with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo by forfeiting $2 million in fees that it earned from the New York state pension fund. The La Jolla money management firm says it settled because it can be held liable for an employee’s actions even if it was unaware of them.
Moseley’s allegations, PCG says, are the most recent example of a competitor seeking to do it harm by making false and defamatory allegations. According to PCG’s lawsuit, Moseley’s greed was the real reason he left the firm and if anything, he has been overpaid. Moseley threatened his former employer with “adverse publicity and injury to its reputation” if he wasn’t paid what he says he was owed.
PCG and its law firm, Sullivan, Hill, Lewin, Rez & Engel, filed its counter-claim under the Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations statute. The RICO statute carries the threat of treble damages, punitive damages and the right to recover attorney fees and litigation costs. Very few of these cases ever make it to trial because of the tremendous sums that are at stake for both sides.
Moseley’s conduct resulted in “tens of millions of dollars in damages,” and those damages would potentially be trebled under the RICO statute. In addition, PCG says it will seek punitive damages and attorney fees from Moseley.
You can decide for yourself by reading Moseley’s first amended complaint and PCG’s counterclaim: