Pssst – Hey Buddy, Where Can I Get an Auditor?

FINALLY!  – PSPRS is hiring an Internal Auditor, but they are doing it on the down low (’cause that might mean that there are  W.R.O.N.G.S. at PSPRS).

In case you are already bored, we’ll get right to it

Since PSPRS has failed to post this position on their website and given all the other issues at PSPRS, one can only conclude that either they are only marginally competent or they are being deceptive regarding the need for an experienced internal auditor and want to keep that need on the down low.

Regarding the need for an Internal Auditor at PSPRS –   How does that saying go? Something about closing the barn door after the horse already got out? –

Excerpts from the Pensions and Investments article written on July 19, 2013:

  • “Charges by investment staff at the $7.3 billion Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System that a top-down culture allows management to retaliate against dissent are being investigated by an employment law firm.”
  • “Mr. Hacking said he learned of the allegation after Mark Steed, acting chief investment officer and chief of staff in the Arizona Public Safety fund’s investment office, told him the issue was raised during a May 20 investment team meeting. He said he then instructed Mr. Steed to write a memo detailing the events of the meeting.”
  • “The two top managers of the investment office — CIO Ryan Parham and Deputy CIO Marty Anderson — are named in the memo.”
  • “Mr. Steed’s memo said one attendee of the May 20 meeting, who was not named, wanted to discuss the “team culture.” The person stated the culture was “inconsistent” with what was supposed to be the investment office’s “Socratic” culture, as defined previously by Messrs. Parham and Anderson. Team members are supposed to be free to disagree and challenge each other in the best interests of the pension fund, Mr. Steed’s memo said.”
  • “Two of 10 investment staffers and the investment office’s counsel have resigned in recent weeks”  (Pensioners First – three investment professionals resigned).

According to the CBS Channel 5 KPHO article on September 25, 2013:

  • Board Vice President Greg Ferguson said that they are currently investigating the allegations of mismanagement, but he does not believe they have done anything wrong.‘We went out and hired an independent law firm to come in and look at our process,’ said Ferguson. ‘We think there is nothing wrong with the process. We’ve had auditors look at it and we have nothing to hide. We think we are doing everything correctly.'”

According to the Arizona Republic article on September 30, 2013 :

  • Deputy Director Jared Smout – “Smout, in an e-mail to The Republic, said the trust has been forced to waste time and taxpayer money to ‘defend these spurious claims made by previous staff whose only agenda is personal.’ He said they were ‘using this valuation issue as a vehicle to mask’ their agenda.”

According to the Arizona Auditor General’s letter of November 13, 2013:

  • “In the future, the System should ensure that the valuations reported in its financial statements for properties with established cash flows use discount rates that reflect the assumptions of
    market participants.”
  • “DTC placed emphasis on unobservable inputs, which is not consistent accounting standards.”
  • “In addition, by considering future business plans for the properties, Desert Troon Companies’ valuations relied on assumptions that were not necessarily consistent with the assumptions that market participants would use to value the properties.”
  • “Although these properties will not be sold until some future date, Financial Accounting Standards Board standards are clear that the intent to hold an asset for a period of time is not relevant when determining fair value.”
  • “If the valuations reported were significantly impacted, the System should consider restating the values reported in the 2012 financial statements.”
  • Pensioners FirstRegarding the PSPRS asset valuation practices, the Arizona Auditor General recommended that real estate assets be written down by $24.7 million (PSPRS’s Press Release dated November 21, 2013).

According to the Arizona Republics article on January 22, 2014, noting that the FBI is now investigating PSPRS, and PSPRS’ rebuttal letter posted on their website that same day:

  • PSPRS – “We are confident any such [FBI] review will result in the same findings reported by the Arizona Auditor General’s office.”
  • Pensioners First – See the Auditor General’s letter of November 13, 2013.  So PSPRS is confident that the FBI will determine that the practices used by management and the Board of Trustees is inconsistent with industry standards?

Summary:

  • Vice Chairman Ferguson states – “We think there is nothing wrong with the process. We’ve had auditors look at it and we have nothing to hide. We think we are doing everything correctly.”
  • Deputy Director Smout states that the investment department staff’s claims are “spurious” (that means bogus, fake, false, counterfeit, forged, fraudulent, sham, feigned, deceptive, or misleading), and that real estate valuation concerns masked personal agendas, yet the Arizona Auditor General disagreed with PSPRS.
  • Regarding those personal agendas masked via real estate valuation concerns, the Arizona Auditor General stated that PSPRS’ practices were :  inconsistent, inconsistent, not relevant, and should consider restating the values reported – by writing down those valuations to the tune of $24 million.
  • Pensioners First – Was the Auditor General being spurious or did the AG also have a personal agenda? 
  • Pensioners First – Yes PSPRS, you need an Internal Auditor!

Pensioners First believes that the ability of PSPRS management and the Board of Trustees to communicate facts clearly may be spurious (that means bogus, fake, false, counterfeit, forged, fraudulent, sham, feigned, deceptive, or misleading).

52,000 pensioners and 6.5 million taxpayers are watching!

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