McClatchy pension fund lost $78 million

McClatchy Watch is following a tip that the McClatchy Company has lost almost $78 million from its pension fund through its investment with a commodities trading pool being investigated for fraud.

“In all, 26 institutional investors — 10 with separate accounts and 16 in commingled funds — had a total of $667 million invested in an enhanced index strategy marketed by Westridge Capital Management Inc., Santa Barbara, California,” says a March 9 article in Pensions & Investments. “… Federal regulatory agencies and the U.S. Attorney allege in multiple civil and criminal cases filed in U.S. District Court in New York on February 25 that [the fund’s administrators] instead have been siphoning off most of the institutional investors’ capital since at least 1996.”

The fund managers, Paul Greenwood and Stephen Walsh, are alleged to have misappropriated as much as $554 million.

McClatchy, on Schedule H Form 5500, line 4f, of a recent financial filing says the firm lost $77,830,559 to “fraud or dishonesty” that it has not recovered, according to McClatchy Watch. “The employee [who tipped McClatchy Watch] says he contacted the [newspaper publisher’s] corporate office and was told this has been previously reported and that company attorneys are working hard to get some of the money back.”

The implication, of course, is that this is a huge loss for McClatchy, which is about a hair from bankruptcy, and that not making it more widely known or explaining it more fully shows McClatchy’s disdain for its pensioners and investors. And, as is typical, McClatchy Watch commenters explain that it’s all because the company is run by a bunch of liberals/socialists.

The P&I article lists several other institutional investors involved with Westridge: “CBS Corp., with pension assets of $3.2 billion; the $18 billion Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System; $2.5 billion Kern County Employees’ Retirement Association; $3.5 billion North Dakota State Investment Council; $5.5 billion Sacramento County Employees’ Retirement System; the $313 million Viacom Inc. plan; and the $4.6 billion Wells Fargo & Co. plan. Also affected are the $1 billion endowment of Carnegie Mellon University and the $2.8 billion endowment of University of Pittsburgh.”

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