The fraud is in the Boston Transit Authority’s pension fund. Pursuing fraud in municipal pension funds would be a full time job for 100 accountants. From Robert Huebscher at advisorperspectives.com:
Harry Markopolos, the investigator who exposed the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, has uncovered a new fraud. The unfunded status of the pension fund of the Boston Transit Authority (the “MBTA”) is $500 million bigger than previously thought, according to Markopolos. This will have a significant impact on the municipal bond market, especially if it turns out that the MBTA’s problems are endemic among similar pension funds.
The unfunded status of a pension fund is the market value of the assets minus the present value of the liabilities, discounted at an actuarially determined interest rate. For most public pension plans, this number is negative; the liabilities exceed the assets and it is underfunded.
Although the full details are not yet known, Markopolos said the $500 gap is due to bad investments, fraudulent accounting and unrealistic actuarial assumptions.
Markopolos spoke on June 9 at Northfield Information Service’s 22nd annual summer seminar, held in Newport, RI. Northfield is a provider of advanced analytics to institutional investment managers and wealth managers. Its CEO, Dan diBartolomeo, worked with Markopolos in the Madoff investigation and is helping with the MBTA case.
Markopolos called what is left of the MBTA’s pension a “Tender Vittles retirement plan,” meaning (sarcastically) that its participants would be eating cat food.
The underlying cause of the MBTA’s problems was poor management and oversight. “No good outcomes result when you mix politics and money,” Markopolos said.
The problems began with failed investments in two hedge funds and culminated in the more widespread problems that Markopolos uncovered.
To continue reading: Harry Markopolos – Who Exposed Madoff – Has Uncovered a New Fraud