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Shenanigans At The PSPRS Pension Part Deux

http://www.pionline.com/article/20140623/PRINT/140629975/dust-up-in-the-desert

On this very day, one year ago…

The  #$%! Up In The Desert was made public.

                                            – Pensioners First

Dust-up in the desert

Arizona public safety fund is still grappling with a controversy over some real estate investments

Staff and board members of the underfunded $7.9 billion Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, Phoenix, continue to deal with fallout from questions about real estate valuations and legal matters involving former staff members who questioned those valuations.

Three portfolio managers, as well as the pension fund’s chief investment counsel, resigned between June and October 2013 over valuation of some of the properties in portfolios managed by Desert Troon Cos., Scottsdale, Ariz.

The FBI has interviewed at least two of the former portfolio managers, asking whether senior management had inflated the value of real estate managed in a joint venture between the pension fund and Desert Troon.

Mark Selfridge, a former portfolio manager, said in an interview with Pensions & Investments that FBI agents questioned him about the valuation issues. Anton Orlich, another former portfolio manager, testified in a deposition taken by the pension fund that he, too, was questioned by the FBI.

James Hacking, the pension fund’s administrator, said in a letter to P&I that the valuations used by PSPRS senior management — Chief Investment Officer Ryan Parham, Deputy CIO Marty Anderson and Mr. Hacking — for the Desert Troon portfolios “were reasonable” and “most accurately reflected” the underlying value of the real estate properties.

One month after this article was published, Administrator James Hacking was fired for lying to the Governor about suspended bonuses and hidden pay raises that were a direct result of these employee resignations.

                                                                                                               – Pensioners First

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed PSPRS for documents in connection with the FBI investigation.

The pension fund is suing Mr. Orlich, alleging he improperly took fund documents with him when he resigned. Mr. Orlich insists he had permission to take the documents. In addition, Desert Troon filed suit against the four people who resigned from PSPRS, alleging they made false statements to the media, including P&I, defaming the firm and senior officials at the pension fund.

One thing is certain: PSPRS won’t be entering into any other relationships structured like the joint venture with Desert Troon. Pension trustees voted earlier this year to prohibit PSPRS from investing in any new “joint venture real estate investments.”

Despite repeated written requests and phone calls, Desert Troon CEO Daniel Smith did not comment for this article.

The relationship

PSPRS and Desert Troon formed at least two real estate ventures that remain active today, part of a real estate investment program that Mr. Hacking said in an April 22 letter ”reflected PSPRS’ commitment to investment in the Arizona community.”

The first is DTR1 LLC, which Mr. Hacking said was formed in the mid-1990s. This is the joint venture that Messrs. Selfridge and Orlich said the FBI asked them about.

PSPRS owns between 85% and 100% of each property in the DTR1 portfolio; Desert Troon owns the remainder and manages all of it. The joint venture also contains what Mr. Hacking called “the majority of the … assets” that another real estate money manager, The Pivotal Group, had managed for the pension fund; Pivotal was terminated in 2009.

The second company, DTR1C LLC, was formed in 2009 as a wholly owned subsidiary of PSPRS, the assets of which are managed by Desert Troon. It was formed to assemble, reposition and sell distressed properties; the pension fund is the sole investor. The portfolio includes properties that had been managed by Apex Capital Management which, like Pivotal, had been hurtby the collapse of the real estate market and had poor performance.

The pension fund terminated Apex in 2011 and transferred about $30 million in properties managed by Apex to DTR1C in early 2012. The properties in DTR1C are 100% owned by the pension fund. DTR1C also contains some properties in which Desert Troon gave up its minority interest after the pension fund paid down debt on them, minutes from PSPRS board meetings show.

The assets managed by Desert Troon in both portfolios represented 55.08% of PSPRS’ overall real estate portfolio at the end of fiscal 2008. That dropped to 36.6% at the end of last year.

Overall, PSPRS has made capital commitments and/or investments of more than $550 million with Desert Troon during the 18-year relationship.

Desert Troon manages almost 4.7% of the pension fund’s total assets, according to PSPRS’ June 30, 2013, financial statement.

A report from Bank of New York Mellon (BK) Corp. (BK), the pension fund’s custodian, showed PSPRS’ investments with Desert Troon returned an annualized -6% net of fees on a time-weighted basis for the five-year period ended June 30, 2013. The NCREIF Property index returned an annualized 2.79% for the same period.

Mr. Hacking confirmed the pension fund uses the NCREIF index as a benchmark. But he said for accounting reasons, comparing the returns of DTR1 and DTR1C to that index “will result in material distortions and inaccuracies. Simply put, it is not an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison.”

Most recent publicized public reports for Desert Troon’s investment performance

• -16.4% One-year performance
• -3.1% Three-year performance
• -4.7% Five –year performance

There appears to be an over-weighting of the real estate portfolio in Desert Troon while the portfolio itself has been consistently underperforming over the past five years.  Regardless, it does appear that the relationship will need to change so that PSPRS can diversify its real estate portfolio and not have its returns so closely tied to a single company.

       http://www.PSPRS.info (PSPRS Pension Watch blog)

Valuation

The value of the two portfolios Desert Troon managed led to a dispute in 2013 over whether Messrs. Parham and Hacking had used the appropriate appraisal methods during the previous four years.

The three former PSPRS portfolio managers — Messrs. Selfridge, Orlich and Paul Corens — and former Chief Investment Counsel Andrew Carriker cited the valuation dispute as a reason for their resignations.

Mr. Hacking acknowledged to P&I that the four men had disputed the valuation and “resigned, ostensibly over this issue.”

The controversy came to light last year after Messrs. Orlich and Carriker began questioning how PSPRS was valuing the Desert Troon portfolios.

The roots of the valuation dispute go back to 2009. That’s when the pension fund began using a market value for all appraisals. The purpose was to provide “meaningful insight into the value of (the pension fund’s) investments” and “specific asset values” in the preparation of PSPRS’ financial statements, Mr. Hacking said in a letter to P&I. (Until then, a cost basis — what it cost to acquire a property — was used.)

But in 2010, Messrs. Hacking and Parham discarded the market-value-based appraisal process. They agreed to Desert Troon’s request that the pension fund use an investment-value-based approach.

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board requires public pension funds’ real estate holdings to be appraised at market value, using factors such as comparable sales or an income approach using discounted cash flow analysis, said William Holder, a former GASB board member and dean of the Leventhal School of Accounting at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He is not involved in the PSPRS matter.

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012, Desert Troon valued the real estate it managed for the Arizona pension fund using investment value, “to reflect what it fully expected those assets would sell for in the future as the real estate markets revive, especially here in Arizona,” Mr. Hacking said in a July 2013 letter to Arizona Auditor General Debra K. Davenport, requesting that her office evaluate Desert Troon’s valuation methods.

He said Desert Troon used the income approach to analyze future cash flows from the properties, the same method used by independent appraiser Ernst & Young LLC.

But they used different discount rates.

While the auditor general said Desert Troon used a 5% discount rate for lifestyle and retail properties, which were the bulk of the portfolios, discount rates of 7.75% to 20.5% were used for commercial properties.

Ernst & Young, however, appraised every property using discount rates of 7.75% to 20.5%.

The auditor general said the 5% discount rate Desert Troon used for lifestyle and retail properties “may not be consistent with accounting standards.” But the auditor general also said the discount rates used for the commercial properties were ones “market participants would use,” and were appropriate.

As a result, Desert Troon’s appraisals for the year ended June 30, 2012, totaled $303.5 million; Ernst & Young’s appraisals totaled $213.6 million.

Desert Troon’s valuation was used in the pension fund’s financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2012, which led to a dispute the following year among PSPRS investment staff as to what discount rate to use. That disagreement ultimately led to the resignation of the three portfolio managers and the chief counsel.

Mr. Holder said the 5% discount rate was too low to reflect the market value of real estate, as required by the GASB. He said investors in real estate generally use at least 12% to 15% to reflect the speculative nature of real estate investments. He said 5% would be closer to a risk-free rate.

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013, Ernst & Young’s valuation was about $82 million less than the approximately $344 million Desert Troon had reported.

Mr. Hacking told P&I that using a market-based valuation would have understated the value of the Desert Troon portfolio by as much as $151 million combined in the two fiscal years ended June 30, 2013.

Valuation issues also surfaced in earlier years. In 2007, the joint venture with Desert Troon purchased Superstition Gateway, a shopping complex in Mesa, Ariz., and tracts of vacant land in other parts of metropolitan Phoenix.

In 2010, the pension fund hired CBRE Group Inc. to appraise the shopping center and land, using PSPRS’ new market-value appraisal policy, Christa Severns, the pension fund’s former external spokeswoman, has said.

Based on the appraisal by CBRE, the pension fund’s entire equity investment of $64.4 million in Superstition Gateway would have to be written down, according to a June 18, 2010, e-mail to Mr. Corens from Desert Troon CFO Daniel Hammons,who questioned the appraisals.

“These values seem criminal,” Mr. Hammons wrote.

That e-mail also said that based on the CBRE appraisal, the pension fund’s entire $31.7 million investment in Terra Verde, a partially completed office park in Scottsdale, would be wiped out.

In an e-mail to P&I, Ms. Severns said pension fund and Desert Troon executives were concerned that the market-based appraisals might have “produced ‘fire sale’ values that would have wiped out the (pension) system’s and DTC’s equity interests in some of those properties.”

“The resulting values could have arguably violated the loan covenants and potentially caused lenders to issue technical loan defaults or at the very least demand principal reductions,” she wrote.

Ms. Severns said after seeing market-based appraisals that showed a severe decline in property values, Desert Troon executives requested the pension fund use the investment-value approach for its joint-venture portfolio.

She said PSPRS’ CIO Mr. Parham then arranged a meeting in the summer of 2010 between Desert Troon and CBRE group officials and both agreed an investment-based methodology should be used to value the properties. And it was.

Mr. Hacking said in his July 2013 letter to the state auditor general that Desert Troon officials had argued in 2010 that it would be unreasonable to report then-current market values for the joint venture, DTR1, since those properties were not going to be sold immediately and could be sold at substantially higher prices in the future.

The properties were ultimately reappraised higher, using investment value, as requested by Desert Troon. The properties — including Superstition Gateway and Terra Verde — were written down by approximately $50 million in 2011.

A 2010 appraisal that valued the properties at about $100 million less using market value was never used. Indeed, for the five fiscal years between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2013, PSPRS used investment value in appraisals.

In a formal report to the pension fund’s board, Mr. Carriker, the chief investment counsel, contested those valuations. But the board adopted a report signed by Mr. Hacking and PSPRS’ outside fiduciary counsel Marc Lieberman that said the use of investment value calculations was proper.

Last November, the auditor general responded to Mr. Hacking’s July 2013 letter regarding the asset valuation methods, saying the pension fund must adhere to GASB rules of using fair, or market, value.

However, in another section of its report, the auditor general said for the properties in the joint venture, investment value can be used. It said PSPRS, as an investor in the entity that owns the real estate, doesn’t value its investments based on the appraisals but rather on values provided by Desert Troon under the joint venture’s operating agreement.

Because of that scenario, the auditor general quotes generally accepted accounting principles as allowing Desert Troon to estimate the value of PSPRS’ ownership interest. The pension fund used that number.

Mr. Holder, the USC dean, disagreed that PSPRS could report investment value for the Desert Troon joint venture portfolio. He said regardless of whether joint venture real estate assets can be sold at the time they are appraised, the GASB requires public pension funds to list real estate at fair, or market, value.

Timing

PSPRS mainly made direct real estate investments with several firms between 1990 and 2008 as the pension fund expanded its investments in Arizona strip shopping centers, office buildings, residential development and vacant land.

Most of the direct real estate investments were in the Phoenix area.

Concentrating investment in one area can be risky because a pension plan could expose itself to the vagaries of that market, said Robert Heinkel, a professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and co-author of the book, “The Role of Real Estate in a Pension Portfolio.”

While Mr. Heinkel isn’t familiar with the Arizona pension fund, he commented: “It’s real obvious that you want to diversify not just in real estate investments, but any investments. It’s dangerous not to do so.”

When Mr. Parham became CIO on May 27, 2009, the Arizona and Southwest real estate markets had collapsed, which meant such investments the pension plan made had already soured. Pension officials began publicly acknowledging problems in the real estate portfolio that year, board and investment committee meeting minutes show.

Problems with some properties emerged when the pension fund was called on to help Desert Troon repay debt from property investments for both portfolios.

Minutes of a January 2010 PSPRS investment committee meeting show Desert Troon was facing demands from bank lenders requiring immediate repayment of debt on properties, first in the joint venture (DTR1) and later in both portfolios.

When asked how much pension fund money was used to pay down debt on properties managed by Desert Troon, Mr. Hacking said in an e-mail: “We cannot say without research … but we have confirmed that since 2009, (PSPRS) has contributed $93 million to DTR1 and $76 million to DTR1C.“

In some cases, PSPRS was forced to repay the debt because it had guaranteed it would make payments if the joint venture — DTR1 — could not.

The pension fund’s pledge enabled the PSPRS Desert Troon joint venture to get a lower interest rate on loans, according to minutes from a PSPRS board meeting on Nov. 30, 2011.

“The decision to enter into recourse (debt) was made when debt was cheap for joint ventures and the market was doing well, in order to save money,” Don Stracke, a consultant from the pension fund’s general consultant NEPC LLC, was quoted in the minutes as saying. “The situation that has occurred was not foreseen and today we would never agree to recourse debt.”

Mr. Hacking said in a posting on the fund’s website in August 2013 that Desert Troon had done an excellent job managing depressed real estate assets back to health. He cited more than $37 million in real estate sales at that time, two to three times their value in December 2007, he said. He didn’t say how many properties were sold.

Mr. Hacking has said the pension fund intends to sell the properties managed by Desert Troon when the market recovers. For now, most of the properties in the two Desert Troon-managed portfolios remain unsold.

Desert Troon earns fees from PSPRS as its real estate manager, operating partner, developer and property manager as well as when properties are sold. The pension fund paid Desert Troon $12 million in fees in 2012, according to a report compiled by ORG Portfolio Management, the pension fund’s real estate investment consultant. The report concluded the fees were appropriate.

Performance monitoring

The valuation dispute is just one issue raised by the former employees. They also questioned the lack of quarterly reporting by Desert Troon about investment performance of the portfolios the company manages for the pension fund.

As the Arizona fund’s allocations to Desert Troon increased, PSPRS’ oversight of the manager did not keep up with Desert Troon’s expanding role, said Mr. Corens, who was real estate manager from 2006 to 2010.

Messrs. Corens and Selfridge said in separate interviews that Desert Troon failed to provide quarterly financial reports, which real estate investment consultants say are an industry standard.

The two former PSPRS employees said that while Desert Troon did provide annual performance reporting, that reporting generally was limited to only aggregate data on the overall Desert Troon portfolio. That, they said, made it difficult for the PSPRS staff to determine what pieces of the portfolio were performing well and which were underperforming.

Mr. Hacking in his e-mailed answers to questions, said Desert Troon “has always complied, and continues to comply, with all of its financial reporting obligations under the DTR1 Operating Agreement and the DTR1C Management Agreement.”

This article originally appeared in the June 23, 2014 print issue as, “Dust-up in the desert”.

LINK: Desert Troon Potentially Linked to Scam In Norway (Dagens Næringsliv report)

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Does The Arizona Police and Fire Pension Mirror The Dallas Police and Fire Fund?

LINK: Dallas Police And Fire Pension   vs. Arizona Public Safety

Review of Dallas police-fire pension confirms overvaluation of real estate

DallasNews.com

Updated: 21 January 2015 -By STEVE THOMPSON

First, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System plunged into risky real estate ventures at the height of last decade’s bubble.

Then, when the city wanted to audit the value of those investments, pension officials refused to hand over documents, and the standoff threatened to spiral into a lawsuit.

Finally, after a year of wrangling and delay, an independent review of the $3.3 billion fund has confirmed what many suspected: accounting problems.

The review, which focused on the fund’s real estate holdings in 2013, estimates that it overvalued some properties by tens of millions of dollars.

Those least shocked may be police officers and firefighters. They saw their fund suffer about $96 million in losses on risky real estate investments in 2013. Much or all of these losses were write-downs that followed new appraisals of real estate properties.

The new appraisals and the city’s push for an audit came after The Dallas Morning News flagged problems with the fund’s accounting. The News reported in early 2013 that the fund valued many of its real estate ventures by what it had invested, rather than by appraisals or other methods. This was contrary to widely accepted standards.

“This report shows we need better governance and more transparency into our pension fund so we can address issues as they come up — not years after the damage has been done,” said Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins, reading from a statement at a news conference he called Tuesday.

Atkins was one of several City Council members whom Mayor Mike Rawlings installed on the pension’s board as he shook it up in mid-2013. The board consists of four council members and eight current and retired police officers and firefighters.

Rawlings took a keen interest in the fund’s heavy investment in “alternative” assets — such as real estate — that often don’t have clear market values like stocks and bonds.

The fund’s real estate investments surpassed $1.5 billion in the middle of 2012 — equivalent then to about 50 percent of the fund’s net worth. That investment strategy is unusual. Among large public pension funds, the median share invested in real estate was then less than 5 percent.

The News reported that much of the fund’s real estate consisted of risky ventures such as a luxury resort and vineyard in Napa County, Calif., ultra-luxury homes in Hawaii, and large tracts of land in Arizona and Idaho.

Rawlings knew that state law requires the city to audit its pension funds every five years. The next was due in 2013. So the mayor pushed to include a review of the fund’s alternative assets.

Pension officials fought the add-on review, saying it was not within the scope provided by state law. The fund, which has significant autonomy from the city because it is organized under state law, refused to hand over documents. The city and the fund edged to the brink of a lawsuit.

That’s where Atkins came in. Because he was a fund trustee, its officials could not avoid turning over documents to him if he demanded them. Over months of wrangling, attorneys for the city and the fund, as well as Atkins’ personal attorney, hammered out a deal under which Atkins would direct an auditing firm to do the review. The pension fund and the city split the cost for Atkins to hire an affiliate of the firm Deloitte.

Atkins released a summary of Deloitte’s report Tuesday. The firm focused on $1.287 billion in alternative assets held by the fund at the end of 2013.

Of these, Deloitte found that $772 million in assets were at risk of being overvalued “because the valuation approaches or methods … appear to have been improperly applied and/or inconsistent with commonly accepted valuation practice.”

From this pool, Deloitte selected nine large assets that the fund had valued collectively at $585 million. The firm estimated the actual value of these assets instead to be between $507 million and $559 million.

Overvaluing assets on a fund’s books can create a falsely optimistic picture of its overall health, leaving police, firefighters and taxpayers on the hook for the future.

Fund officials, in a statement released Tuesday by their public relations firm, called the overvaluation flagged by Deloitte “financially immaterial when measured against DPFP’s entire investment portfolio.”

“However, we understand that even a small variance is unacceptable since our mission is to protect the financial futures of the police officers and firefighters who protect us,” the statement said.

Atkins declined to say which of the fund’s real estate investments were included in the review, but he said the fund’s controversial Museum Tower luxury condominium building was not among them.

“The report will speak for itself — but I can tell you there are significant problems at the [pension] system,” Atkins said. “I challenge the board and the system’s administration to address these problems.”

The mayor, reached by phone Tuesday, said the review’s findings come as no surprise.

“We just needed to confirm this,” Rawlings said. “The good news is we’ve made progress.”

The pension fund’s board ousted its top staffer, Richard Tettamant, last year after real estate write-downs helped prompt poor investment returns. The fund is searching for his replacement.

The fund’s chief financial officer left his post as the city’s audit got underway. The new CFO pushed for accounting changes that are likely to have already corrected the valuation problems pointed out by Deloitte’s review. Atkins could not confirm this.

Board members, meanwhile, have aligned around more conservative investing strategies.

Still, the fund’s financial situation concerns city and fund officials. This is in part because of real estate losses but due more to a lucrative pension perk — the deferred retirement program known as DROP.

Fund members voted last year for significant changes to DROP, but several beneficiaries sued, and a judge said the changes violated the Texas Constitution. The board then voted to suspend new entrants to the program beginning April 1. But its benefits to those already in the program will continue to sap the fund.

MORE:  Dallas Fund Is Ticking Time Bomb

MORE:  Pensions A State Embarrassment

MORE:  Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP, now has burned a hole in the pension system’s pockets

Pensioners First – The parallels between the Dallas Police and Fire Pension and the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System are scary…

Watchdog Reporting and The Public Safety Pension

Watchdog reporting is one of The Arizona Republic’s priorities

Cherrill Crosby, The Republic | January 10, 2015

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/investigations/2015/01/10/watchdog-reporting-one-republics-priorities/21529841/

Harvard Study: Arizona State Government Most Corrupt

Arizona’s the Most Corrupt State in America, According to Survey

AZ Taxpayers Absorb Defense Costs For “Unusual” Desert Troon Lawsuit

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/investigations/2014/11/18/taxpayers-absorb-legal-tab-ex-pension-staffers/19231869/

Taxpayers absorb legal tab for 4 ex-pension staffers

Craig Harris, The Republic | azcentral.com November 18, 2014

Desert Troon’s Diskerud Family: Shadowy Lenders

According to multiple published articles in Norway’s largest business newspaper, Desert Troon’s founders, the Norwegian Diskerud family, is allegedly associated with what appears to be reports of loan sharking, usury, and shadow lending in Europe.

PREVIOUS POST:  Desert Troon’s Chairman Associated With International Loan Sharking

Updated Summary:

  • The Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) is a major investor with the Desert Troon Companies, to the tune of something like $300 million (more about Desert Troon’s investment performance).
  • Tore Christian Diskerud is the Chairman and apparently the founder of the Desert Troon Companies.
  • Tore Diskerud, Pal Diskerude, and mysterious entities named Unius, LLC (a Delaware limited liability company) and the Jonathan company (and possibly San Francisco-based Troon Pacific) are allegedly associated with unregulated and possibly illegal loan sharking (usury) in Europe.
  • According to Dagens Næringsliv, Norway’s largest business newspaper:
    • The Jonathan company is usury lender Pal Diskerud’s main company.
    • The Jonathan company is also a “member of the Desert Troon Group” – a US real estate group belonging Tore Christian Diskerud (76), Pål Diskerud’s  father.
    • Pål Diskerud operated in the shadow lending market on his father’s behalf.
  • Unius LLC is one of the many entities associated with Desert Troon’s  and Arizona PSPRS’ joint-venture “DTR-1” real estate holding company (see the Arizona Corporate Commission and PSPRS’ public meeting minutes).
  • The FSA or Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (Finanstilsynet) is investigating for potential illegal activity.

The following article(s) was published in Norwegian, but was translated by Google Translate.  Let’s see how good Google really is…

http://www.dn.no/magasinet/2014/11/07/2202/Dokumentar/lnehaien

and

http://diskerud.wordpress.com/author/diskerud/

About Pål Diskerud – loan shark

 

From a penthouse apartment on Tjuvholmen serve asylum investor and football agent Paul Diskerud in the big bucks on controversial lending in the unregulated market. A retiree in need of care and an elderly woman is in danger of losing their homes to Diskerud.

Loop Vika, a quiet and peaceful idyll next Papperhavn the Whales. Inger Marie Haraldsen is on the terrace and look out over the property she has lost.

– It would only be a loan, but he has taken from me the property, she said.

Now she lives on borrowed time in the house her father built and son would inherit. On the neighboring property is the house she built for her mother – and that she hoped her daughter would take over – empty, with dark windows.

It is ten years since Inger Marie Haraldsen took the fateful phone.

– I called Paul Diskerud when I got in trouble. He knew my father and could lend me the money to finish the house to my mom, she says.

During the construction dead mother. Money ran out.

– He waited until I was completely on the rim. In the last hour. Then he demanded that I had to write over both houses of him if I wanted to borrow money. So would I buy it back when I paid back the loan. I got ten years on me.

In desperation, she signed documents that transferred the family property to Pål Diskerud. Now it’s almost been ten years and the hourglass is about to run out. The properties of Whales is worth at least four million. Diskerud has taken both as collateral for a loan of 500,000 crowns.

Inger Marie Haraldsen will buy the house back. She has called and sent messages. She has sent registered letters, which always comes back. She approached Diskerud in Oslo, asked him to sort out. Say what they owe him. Without fail.

– I’m so scared. I realize now that he’s going to let the deadline go out. He will take the houses from us. I do not know what to do. They are all we have.

She feels alone. There is not she.


AGENT AND BUSINESS MAN

Pål Diskerud (53) moves around in Oslo as a shadow. He does not take the phone. Responding by email. The National Registry is he registered as “no fixed abode”. Officially he is a private investor and businessman with a number of companies, he is football agent son Mikkel “Mix” Diskerud and he owns and operates a reception center several locations in southern Norway.

The companies he owns, registered in Elisenbergveien 5 at Frogner in Oslo. The mailbox is more of Diskerud companies listed Jonatan as, Phoenix Holding and Ice Greedy. Diskerud owns three apartments in this apartment building, but do not live in any of them. And nowhere is there anything about officious he engaged in the loan market.

Diskerud has earned millions of dollars on gråmarkedslån [shadow lending] in the past 20 years. The tools are clever contracts, aides, useful lawyers and mortgage on real estate and art. Money is handed over in the form of bank drafts and cash. A few years back caused Diskerud business heads in a bank in Oslo. Diskerud bought a bank draft of 500,000 kroner. The bank sent a money laundering report, but nothing happened. The bank gave him the money would be used for art purchases.

In equation lists are Pål Diskerud with zero income.


A SAD STORY

Stein Enqvist (60) strolling around the large property he once owned in Voksenkollen in Oslo. The black mix dog Tito sniffs at his heels. The property, Pål Diskerud took over several years ago, was once valued at 23 million dollars. Now grow the grass in the driveway. The house stands empty for eight years. By contrast, King’s Cabin on the other side of the road.

– My wife can not bear to go up here. She is devastated, depressed, he says.

Uplightsene in the driveway is overgrown, the pool in the basement has been full of water for years, and green algae growth. On fine days could Stein Enqvist earlier sit on the terrace and watch Nesoddbåten add. On the right fine day, he could see all the way to Bolærne outer Oslo Fjord. Now only the dense forest to see.

Enqvist open an unlocked cellar door and peeks into the basement that was once his. Water flows from pieces of frozen pipes. Rot has set in the walls.

– The only reason Paul Diskerud have let this lapse so, is that he should be allowed to demolish and then build townhouses or something, says Enqvist.

The story began in 2005. Stein Enqvist hit a wall and went into a depression. Attorney practice his stalled, and the family had difficulty dealing with debt. Enqvist to prevent the house went on foreclosures. Through an acquaintance, he came into contact with Paul Diskerud, who was willing to lend him a major figure in the millions in a few years.

The loan was disguised by Diskerud bought the property seven million, while Enqvist got a right to buy the property back by 9.4 million two years later. In this way, both the loan and the interest rates of nearly 100 percent per annum hidden. In the meantime, Enqvist and family to live there as before.

It did not work.

– When I bought the house back, did Paul Diskerud out of reach. I was notified in advance that I would use my right-back. I had a loan commitment from the bank. But I could simply not get him. Suddenly I received a letter stating that I had to move, says Enqvist.

On one of the coldest days in January 2008 Bailiff knocking on the door. It was late at night. Enqvist and family were thrown out.

Pål Diskerud lives of non-performing loans. All of our family was almost destroyed because of this, he says.

The family Enqvist has fought since 2007 to get back home, without success. First went Enqvist the magazine Kapital to get the matter out into the light. So the dispute gone to trial for several laps. There has Enqvist lost, time after time. Pål Diskerud contracts and agreements have been waterproof.

Diskerud attorney, Arne Os, so however that Enqvist entered into an unfavorable deal. “Today Enqvist far down and any agreement that saves the values from compulsory liquidation appears to him to be favorable at the moment. If he comes upstairs, he quickly read the agreement in a different light, and I want you to be aware that the contract model has elements that can be criticized, “wrote Os in a letter to Diskerud presented to the court. It helped a little.

Enqvist straw was to show that Diskerud lending was illegal, he was a professional lender who drove without a license. This did not Enqvist right on. He could only document a small part of Diskerud business. “The court finds it is not proven that Diskerud driver professional lending operations of any scale,” reads the judgment from 2009.


BIG IMPACT

Pål Diskerud has not yet been captured by the authorities radar, despite the fact that he has driven lending business for two decades. To operate professionally with the moneylender in Norway, one must have a license from the FSA. It has neither Diskerud or his companies, according to the audit.

Economics Professor Halvor Mehlum at the University of Oslo is critical that gråmarkedsutlånere can operate freely.

– This type of loan should be banned. Here’s lending activities are of great harm to society. It’s often associated with mafia operations. Debt ratio to the lender is almost like a slave conditions. Banks and financial institutions are serious about wanting to get their money back, but the agreements with loan sharks is to be expected that the lender wants that the agreements will be defaulted, he said.

He does not know Diskerud particular, and comment on the phenomenon.

There is a word for borrowing relationship with unreasonably high interest rates, usury. In criminal law ågerparagraf states that it “is unlawful to exploit someone’s distress, levity, folly or dependency to achieve a consideration.” DN has scrutinized judgments and cases that have gone on trial in Norway over the past decade. None has so far convicted for violation of ågerparagrafen. Recently, however two loan sharks have been prosecuted for illegal gråmarkedslån. Both have a background of serious crime. The cases are brought by police group for organized crime and should be up to the court in a matter of months.

Professor Mehlum find the classic “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith.

– Even Adam Smith, the liberal financial market hero, there is a limit. He believed that ågervirksomhet was a bad thing in a functioning capitalist society, says Mehlum.

He agrees with Smith. An unregulated over-the- counter for loans can have serious consequences.

– People in need are willing to do anything, say Mehlum.

– They must be protected from themselves.


In Room

The man at the outdoor restaurant remember it like it were yesterday, although nearly seven years g to standby. The day he got on a flight to Spain and ran away from it all. From family and friends. From his own life. To escape the loan shark heavy hand.

– It was when they threatened me with taking my children, I decided. The only solution I saw was to take my own life. I planned to drive the car straight into a post in Oslofjordtunnelen, he said.

He had picked out the post. Today he is glad he chose to go instead.

DN meet him somewhere in Norway. He still owes loan sharks 20 million kroner. Interest rates are 500,000 per month. Total debt has grown to more than 60 million.

– I have not seen my children since that day, he says, and smiles sad.

– I’ve only talked to them on the phone. I broke the connector to protect them. I think of them every day.

The man in red Lacoste sweater and black sport goggles looking for words.

– My daughter’s birthday is in two days. I’m trying to get sent a gift to her.

The man’s disability began when he borrowed money from Pål Diskerud to rescue a firm he was a partner in. It is almost ten years ago now. Only one loan, then more. To get rid of the loans to Diskerud, he had to borrow money from the second loan sharks. Loan carousel that evolved, going faster and faster. Finally, there was no more he could borrow. He says that the debt to Paul Diskerud is paid. There are other pengeinnkrevere he escapes from.

– I lost control. Loan carousel has ruined my life. But it’s my own fault, he says.

– I’m not afraid of being shot. What I am afraid of is that they will hurt my family.

Torpedoes

He sits at D / S Louise at Aker Brygge and eats Atlantic shrimp. He is one of the toughest lenders in town.

– I tend well to take between 10 and 15 percent interest per month. It depends a little on whether I know the person before or not.

Piquet-shirt tight over the chest muscles. The big Gucci sunglasses holding the crisp autumn sun out.

– Who is it that borrows money in the unregulated market?

– Some will pay other debts. Many of them will need money quickly, any time of day. There are many who come as you had expected. Both wealthy and prominent business people who need one or two million in cash. I do not ask why. It is not my case.

He tells how the loans obscured by the way the agreements are set up and by putting other people from. The high interest rates are hidden as well.

– On paper, it looks as if the interest rate is low. The rest is in cash or hidden in side agreements.

– What happens if they do not pay?

– Then the bad mood. When I put the case forward in a way that does not give room for discussion. It is rare that I do not get back the money, all manage to raise money if they have to, he says.

– Leverages not people in need?

– No, I’m helping them, he says, and smiles.

The man will not say how much he earns per year in the lending business, but suggests that there are several million. He always has multiple loans outstanding and says that the ten people in Norway in the bank of a certain size.

– Professionally it’s probably only about five pieces, he said.

He says most people in the bank, also pengeinnkrevere or torpedoes.

– I’m pretty big, but rumors say that Paul Diskerud is the greatest. Diskerud operating at a more professional level.


Man in coat

In May 2008, met a motley bunch of general data company Norwegian Information Terminals as – better known as the NIT. Here torpedoes, former convicts and representatives for the occasional McKinsey partner. At the back corner stood a man in coat and cap with his back to. He was unknown to most, but quietly had Diskerud funded with loans over many years through his wholly owned company Jonathan as.

– I guess we borrowed money from Diskerud nine times, says NIT-founder Terje Lien.

Diskerud operated almost like a bank for NIT in the period 2003 to 2007. This emerged in the loan agreements DN has access to.

Slowly but surely took Diskerud control over NIT. He had a mortgage on founders shares. Diskerud got even put his own man in the company. This person had full control over nits bank accounts and make the money that came in went to pay Diskerud requirements. This is evident from agreements DN has a copy of.

NIT was a disaster for shareholders. But not for Diskerud.

– Diskerud was probably the only one who profited from the NIT, says Lien today.

When NIT went bankrupt a few years later, Diskerud sold out and disappeared. Documents from the bankruptcy estate that DN has undergone shows that Diskerud got paid £ millions of NIT.

Diskerud also loaned money to other companies. In 2005 borrowed Jonathan as out a few million when the seismic company Scan Geophysical purchased equipment on bankruptcy sales in the UK. Also, these loans were Diskerud repaid, together with a great record of shares. Finally Diskerud company’s second largest shareholder. When Scan Geophysical went bankrupt in 2009, was Diskerud away.

Jonathan as is Paul Diskerud main company. On paper, however, Jonatan technically bankrupt, only kept alive 60 million in loans from “Pål Diskerud family,” according to its annual report.

According letterheads are Jonathan as also “Member of the Desert Troon Group” – a US real estate group belonging Tore Christian Diskerud (76), Pål Diskerud father.

Also in the lending market has Pål Diskerud operated on his father’s behalf.


PAPPAS BOYS

– It was a bit strange.

Jørn Standal sitting at meeting table in the upstairs of the dog hotel he operates in Hakadal. Outside barking dogs that swim in Standal-kennel resistance pool or trips around the dogs’ own massage floor. Standal have found all the papers from some old case, a case that ended up in court and that he really tried to forget.

In 2002 had Standal raise funds quickly to save a data company he then was co-owner. He needed 4.7 million. It could Pål Diskerud help him.

All papers were however issued dad Tore Diskerud name.

– I had never met Tore Diskerud says Standal.

– As payment for the loan should Diskerud have 600,000 million, representing over 30 percent annual interest, plus 100,000 shares in the company. The shares were at this time worth 600,000 kroner. Altogether I had therefore to pay 1.2 million that he would help me, says Standal.

In a very short time got Pål Diskerud set up a meeting with Eidsberg Savings Bank, where the family Diskerud had good relations. The loan was organized in a subtle way. Instead of borrowing the money itself, put Tore Diskerud a cash account in Eidsberg Savings Bank as collateral. So borrowed bank money to Standal, backed by Diskerud cash. Pål Diskerud signed on behalf of his father [Tore Diskerud].

– On the steps outside the bank, after signing the loan papers, I delivered Pål Diskerud 300,000 dollars in cash. There is no doubt that Paul Diskerud is a professional lender, no, says Standal dry.

Tore Christian Diskerud is little desire to comment on why his name is on the loan papers.

– I know what you are doing, says Tore Diskerud hasty DN on the phone from the US.

– You’ll never find anything. Stop that nonsense!

US EMPIRE

Phoenix, Arizona. From the air, watching the real estate Desert Troon headquarters like a star inside a circle, but from ground level see the two floors relatively modest out. Upstairs sitting Tore Christian Diskerud and leads the books over a huge US real estate empire.

Tore Diskerud was a major player in the yuppie future real estate market in the late 80s. He was a partner and chairman of Andenæs Group, the financial services group Star Holding, before it went thundering bankruptcy in 1993, also was a participant in the gray lending market.

While the cleanup after the bankruptcy was his time, moved Tore Diskerud from Norway. He has built up again in the USA. In documents filed with the United States government, it emerges that Diskerud manages a property portfolio worth seven billion dollars in the United States. Holding Company Desert Troon has developed golf courses, shopping centers, hotels and apartment projects.

According to accounts of Jonathan as and Phoenix Holding as was Paul Diskerud until 2009 a partner in his father’s real estate empire. Tore Diskerud was on their side chair of his son’s Norwegian company Jonathan as in the period 2000 to 2005 while the CEO and chairman of the family company Phoenix Holding as until 2011. Both these companies have borrowed money in the unregulated market with Tore Diskerud as Chairman.


In the apple orchard

In 2010, financier Cato Sælid about to buy a house on Bygdøy to himself and his wife, TV vet Trude Mostue. Bidding process had gone quickly, but funding was not fully seated. Sælid lacked a little over four million, and as backup while he waited for an answer on the loan application, he went to the one he knew lent money: Pål Diskerud.

The loan was no problem. Admittedly rate as usual sky-high, 43 percent. In addition, the complicated side agreements. Diskerud would have security through an option to buy the house on the cheap. Everything was clear, the agreements lacked signatures. When the documents arrived at the table, was a completely unknown name as counterparty: Anne Cecilie Scharning (62), an anonymous apple orchard developer in Oslo.

– I had never met Anne Cecilie Scharning and do not know why her name was there, but I signed. It was Paul Diskerud I did business with, say Sælid today.

The further the story was not quite as expected for either party. Sælid had obtained the full amount in the bank and politely refuse the loan from Scharning and Diskerud. He did not need it anyway, he said. After a while he was still an angry letter from Scharning. She demanded 295,000 dollars in interest. The loan agreement was written so Sælid matter had to fork out.

– I ended up paying. I was afraid that they might require to buy the house at a bargain price. I must admit that I experienced at that blackmail, especially when it orally was explicitly stated that the entire agreement kit only came into use in the real borrowing, says Sælid.

The money he paid to a client of the law firm Dalan in Oslo. Who actually received the money, he is unsure.

Anne Cecilie Scharning writes in response to DN that she has only lent money once, and that was to Sælid.

– This was one time only and do not constitute ‘lending activity, “she writes.

Scharning maintains that it was she herself who met Sælid. How they met, she will not answer.

– I know Paul Diskerud, but that does not mean we lend money together. Diskerud was not party to the loan agreement.

Cato Sælid maintains that he did not know Scharning.

– It was Paul Diskerud I had contact with. It was he I were to borrow money, says Sælid.

He perceived it as that Pål Diskerud had a need to hide.

– In my eyes was Scharning just a straw man for Diskerud.


ROAD TO PARADISE

Nærsnes late summer of 2014. A lone excavator working on leveling the lawn around the pool. The main house, which has been freshly painted white, with views up to Snarøya in Bærum.

According to the previous owner, businessman Terje Andreassen was Pål Diskerud very interested in lending money secured by property.

– Diskerud offered me the loan of 15 million dollars to save the property, says Andreassen today.

– He brought his father out there when they considered my property. They were there several times to look at it, but I ended up not borrow money from them, he said.

In 2013 the property went on the forced sale of 16.3 million. The buyer named Anne Cecilie Scharning. Shortly after Scharning had signed the purchase contract, called it Andreassens mobile phone.

– It was Paul Diskerud. He would buy the way. It certainly was very important for him, says Andreassen.

Andreassen had in fact retained one of the patches, and in this patch was the way to the house. Why was Paul Diskerud interested in this one little bit?

– I assumed they had bought property together, says Andreassen.

Diskerud and Scharning already has a joint real estate project in Asker. Anne Cecilie Scharning will not comment on the ownership of the property on Saltbutangen, but refers to Pål Diskerud for comments.


HIDDEN LOAN

Pål Diskerud lending operations extending over a few decades. DN has found nearly 40 different loan conditions, with a large number of counterparties. Common for borrowers is that they do not have the time or the ability to borrow money in ordinary bank.

Frederick Mowinckel was part of the infamous financial community at Aker Brygge in many years. He also borrowed money from Pål Diskerud.

– It was a mistake. It cost me dearly. Today I am completely cured from wanting to work in the financial industry.

When Mowinckel and a friend needed money, they went to Paul Diskerud.

– In principle, it was a stock with a repurchase guarantee, where we were to buy the shares back at a higher price, he says.

– It’s not common that a stock is secured by a mortgage on the house?

– No, you could say that it was in fact a loan. With quite healthy interest. I ended well up paying nearly two million dollars.

The pledge was initially of 400,000 kroner. How big loan really was, Mowinckel has done his best to forget.

– Just so it’s clear: I do not blame Paul Diskerud. It was I who needed money quickly and would borrow, and I was stupid enough to do it.


The Pawnbroker

DN has undergone dozens of properties where Diskerud companies and individuals or law firms affiliated Diskerud has taken security. DN has gone through property records and found pledges and over extension rings to Diskerud sphere 60 million. How big business really is, is hard to say. For that the loan transactions were well hidden.

In 2010 needed the disputed accountant and businessman Knut Harald Nylænde money quickly.

– I was in a divorce and had problems in some entrepreneurial companies. I needed money. When I called Paul Diskerud says Nylænde.

– I knew from confessed that he was involved in lending money.

Diskerud lined up. Again it was another name that was on the paperwork.

At a cafe in Oslo adds Nylænde document entitled “Loan Agreement” on the table. Terms respondent was Jesper Jeppesen, but as a witness on agreement states Pål Diskerud signature.

The arrangement between Diskerud and Nylænde consists of several agreements with various counterparties. Among other things, conferred Nylænde company containing properties and any outstanding debts to Diskerud. Meanwhile borrowed Jesper Jeppesen out millions, to Nylænde and took a mortgage on Nyla castle-like villa in beachfront at Bygdøy.

– I do not know why Jesper Jeppesen’s name was mentioned in the loan agreement. It was Diskerud I interacted with, say Nylænde.

Jeppesen proves Pål Diskerud most trusted employee. Not only is he often two steps behind Diskerud wherever he goes, he also has a central role in Diskerud companies. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the two apart.

 

Grev Wedel Space Auctions in Quadrature in Oslo. It is 28 November 2011 and white gloves carries out Munch’s woodcut “Moonlight”. Price assessment is just under 2.5 million kroner. Assembly looks, but no raises budskiltet high enough. Munch carried out. The same is repeated in June 2013, although the asking price is lowered by 500,000 kroner.

A Munch-image is a security that can be removed without leaving any tracks. There is money on the wall. In the art market shift large values hands between secret buyers and sellers. Also in Norway.

– I can not tell who I sell pictures for, says Hans Richard Elgheim, CEO at Grev Wedel Space Auctions.

DN followed the traces of the valuable Munch picture since it was sold by Sotheby’s in London in 2008 for 125,000 pounds. A year later it was sold for two million to a broke businessman, before it suddenly appeared at auction in Oslo.

– Who told you about this?

The controversial art dealer Svein Arne Hagen (49) responds unwillingly on the phone. He chooses to put the cards on the table.

– “Moonlight” is owned by Pål Diskerud, Jesper Jeppesen and me. We own it together, but on paper it is owned by Idefix Invest – company Diskerud sidekick, Jesper Jeppesen, says Svein Arne Hagen.

– The story is that I had pledged image but Diskerud bought out the pledge, and we agreed to split the profits when the picture is sold.

Jesper Jeppesen (36) company, Idefix Invest AS, the address of one of Diskerud apartments in Elisenbergveien. Nothing in Idefix Invest accounts indicate that the company has owned a Munch image to around two million years.


AN EXPENSIVE Relationship

Art Handler Svein Arne Hagen and Paul Diskerud’ve known each other a long time. Hagen has created a living by buying and selling art to an environment a little on the side of the established collector market. In 2007, Hagen borrow 1.25 million kroner by Pål Diskerud to buy a house in Hurum. The interest rate was 30 percent. Soon Diskerud just as interested in Hagen’s art collection.

– Diskerud is an expensive acquaintance. He has probably taken over nearly 20 photographs and sculptures that have been mine, says Hagen.

He says that art Pål Diskerud has taken over from him, has always been the security for the loan. It applies to works from Frits Thaulow, Odd Nerdrum, Munch and Kirsten Kokkin.
– I guess I have borrowed money from Diskerud ten times, I think. Together 7-8000000 respectively. But he’d probably call it something other than loans, says Hagen.
All loans are arranged as art purchases, where Diskerud on paper purchased works of art, while the garden has been an agreement to repurchase for a slightly higher price. The price difference represents the hidden interest on the loan.
Svein Arne Hagen’s former lawyer confirms that it’s the way it goes.
– Diskerud hides loans and usury behind formal purchase, says lawyer Steingrim Wolland.
This has repeatedly caused problems.
– I can confirm that, in connection with such an arrangement, considering Diskerud sue for breach of contract and fraud, says Wolland, who also bonded for one of the loans.
The dispute comes two images of Edvard Munch “Vampire” and “Two women on the beach.” Diskerud confirmed in a police interview in 2010 that he bought these photos from the garden. Several sources say the pictures today hangs on the wall in Diskerud apartment Tjuvholmen.
Svein Arne Hagen is tired of lie about how they got there.
– The pictures he made inaccessible for me.
– How?
– He bought pictures of me for about 2.5 million. The pictures were well worth the time between seven million and eight million. I had as usual an offset option. But he made himself unavailable, and I never used the option. It’s his trademark, it. He makes himself unavailable, says Hagen.
Hagen feel cheated. But when the need is greatest which is convenient loan dangerously tempting. Last year was Hagen once again short of money. He called Paul Diskerud. Again. And this time it was really expensive for Hagen. According to documents that have been presented in court, was undated purchase contracts and blankoskjøter deposited with Diskerud law firm, Dalan in Oslo, as security for a new multimillion-dollar.

The garden is quiet.
– Who the hell is the source of this?

– It’s true that I borrowed 1.5 million dollars in six months. For that he would have a million dollars. How much it will be in the interest rates, you can probably figure out for yourself, Hagen says laconically.

The answer is 133 percent interest rate.

Hagen sugar. He has the impression that Diskerud is a major player in the loan market.

– He’s very discreet and secretive, but from what I’ve got with me, he has certainly given 100 loans over the past decade. He is able to obtain large savings if the conditions are present.


No fixed abode

One Monday not long ago. Two men leave Nordea branch at Solli plass. They strode quickly down the hill towards the lake and stop at a store to buy food. One has sandals and a bandana tied around his head. It’s Pål Diskerud. The other two steps behind, is adjunct Jesper Jeppesen. They swing out on the square that is the start of Tjuvholmen. Then they disappear into an anonymous door.

Many victims of Diskerud loan business telling the same story. It is difficult to get hold of Paul Diskerud, almost impossible, say people who have borrowed money from him and that will repay. He no longer takes phone, he responds not by email. The business address of Elisenbergveien he is obviously not. Only a few know for certain where he lives.

Is this where he located? The fashionable Tjuvholmen?
asylum centers

In the reception center Mysebu in Mysen in Eidsberg municipality sing it in Eritrean dialects and Arabic speech between the walls. Sometimes flying the bedsteads and toilet seat through the air on the old folk high school, before blue light rips the darkness.

Together with collaborators driver Pål Diskerud several reception centers. In recent years they have received over 100 million in state aid and gone by 14 million in profits. On paper, it remains Farmers’ Association which owns the buildings housing the reception at Mysen, but in reality it Pål Diskerud who also own these. It provides some neat million in rental revenue to the company as Jonathan.

– He’s a bit of a type. He said he would hold a gymnasium, so he bought the old folk high school, laughing Inge Olav Fure, who helped start the reception center.

– Once I borrowed an apartment for him in Chelsea Harbor in London. Right by the River Thames, with Jaguar in the garage below.

Laughter is strained. His friendship with Diskerud took a perverse turn when Fure borrowed money from him. Fure needed liquidity and pay back all the interest in no time.

Maybe the FBI speaks Norwegian better than Google Translate?

Taxpayer Trick Or Treat Redux

One year ago –

The Appraisal Institute

Professionals Providing Real Estate Solutions

October 2013 – MyAppraisalInstitute.org – Residential Update

Arizona Investments Allegedly Ignored Market-value Appraisals

The Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System allegedly reported increased real estate investment returns by ignoring the market-value appraisals it had commissioned and using instead the higher valuations provided by the firm managing the pension fund’s $7.2 billion portfolio, Pensions & Investments reported Sept. 2 [2013].

Pension fund officials allegedly disregarded appraisals from Ernst & Young and let fund manager Desert Troon provide hypothetical values for some two dozen properties that Desert Troon and the pension fund held through a joint venture.

The Arizona PSPRS financial statements showed an $80 million difference between the market and hypothetical values of the properties, Pensions & Investments reported. Fund Administrator James Hacking noted Aug. 8 [2013] that the hypothetical values of the properties were listed based on what they would sell for after the real estate recovery.

Desert Troon manages $344.3 million in real estate assets for the Arizona fund, which accounts for about a third of the fund’s real estate portfolio and 4.5 percent of total assets, Pensions & Investments reported. The portfolio holds an assortment of housing developments, commercial buildings, strip malls and vacant land, mostly all are in the Phoenix area, which saw a deep drop in prices during the financial crisis.

Since the pension fund came into the spotlight, two lead portfolio managers and the fund’s investment counsel have resigned in protest, and the state auditor general is investigating.

An analysis by Pensions & Investments showed that the difference in valuation between Ernst & Young and Desert Troon allowed the Arizona retirement fund to claim a -0.79 percent return instead of a -2.15 percent return for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012. The valuation difference resulted in an 11.48 percent return for fiscal year 2013, rather than 10.35 percent had Ernst & Young’s valuation been used.

According to Pensions & Investments, real estate investment officials at other pension plans said it is highly unusual for a fund to hire an appraiser and then reject that appraiser’s recommendations.

The PSPRS board voted to use the hypothetical valuations of Desert Troon at a meeting in May 2013, and the fund had represented the hypothetical value on its books as market value.

Doug Cole, a spokesman for PSPRS, told Pensions & Investments that the fund will make it clear in its upcoming annual fiscal report that manager assessments of fair value are synonymous with investment methodologies.

Kutak Rock & PSPRS Board: “Breach of Fiduciary Responsibilities”

The Firm

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2014/10/22/arizona-public-safety-pension-fund-legal-costs/17756231/

Pension fund told to cut legal cost after $1.7 mil bill

Craig Harris, The Republic | azcentral.com  October 22, 2014

PSPRS told that large outside legal tabs would no longer be tolerated

Respectable Murder And Pure Wind

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

-George Orwell

 

PSPRS FBI Subpoena Sought Files Related To Desert Troon Companies And CIO Ryan Parham’s Confidential Letters

http://www.pionline.com/article/20140812/ONLINE/140819961/arizona-psprs-subpoena-sought-files-related-to-desert-troon-cio-letters

By Randy Diamond | August 12, 2014

A federal grand jury investigating the $7.9 billion Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System sought several hundred files related to PSPRS’ investments with its largest real estate manager, Desert Troon Cos., and confidential letters the pension fund’s Chief Investment Officer Ryan Parham wrote to PSPRS board members, the subpoena shows.

Judicial Watch provided the document to Pensions &Investments on Tuesday morning.

The vote by the board to release the document came on the same day the board voted 4-2 to give Mr. Parham a two-year contract extension as the pension fund’s CIO.

Mr. Parham, who makes $268,000 a year and is the highest paid state employee in Arizona, will not be getting a raise. But he will receive two $25,000 retention bonuses over the next two years.

Mr. Parham was a key proponent of a plan that increased the value of PSPRS’ portfolio with Desert Troon by calculating the investments at its value based on recovery of the Arizona real estate market, instead of its market value.

The portfolio had declined in value after the collapse of the Arizona real estate market during the recession.

Three of the pension fund’s investment officers and the chief counsel for its investment office all resigned last year over the valuation dispute, maintaining it was improper for the retirement system to calculate the Desert Troon investments at potential future value instead of a market-based appraisal.

The documents requested by the federal grand jury include valuation records regarding appraisal of the Desert Troon portfolio and confidential written investment reports Mr. Parham sent to the PSPRS board between 2010 and 2013. Sources say those reports included Mr. Parham’s comments on the performance and value of the Desert Troon portfolio.

James Hacking, the pension fund’s former administrator, has insisted that retirement system officials acted properly and in the best interests of PSPRS regarding the valuation of the Desert Troon portfolio.

Mr. Hacking was terminated last month over another controversy involving his approval of pay raises for some members of the retirement system’s investment staff without the required approval of the Arizona State Department of Administration.

The documents named in the federal grand jury subpoena are a subset of documents taken from PSPRS by Anton Orlich, one of the investment staffers who resigned over the controversy involving Desert Troon.

The pension fund had filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court last October demanding the return of the documents that Mr. Orlich said in legal filings he took to protect them from being destroyed.

Mr. Orlich received a federal grand jury subpoena earlier this year for the documents. But he turned over the documents to the Maricopa County Superior Court for safekeeping as part of an agreement with PSPRS until the legal dispute was settled.

The federal grand jury then subpoenaed PSPRS for the documents related to Desert Troon.

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