Fund refuses to pay La. pension boards

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that two Louisiana pension boards have been unable to withdraw  $32 million from an investment fund that promised a 12 percent annual return.

Instead the Firefighters’ Retirement System of Louisiana and the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Louisiana received promissory notes from Fletcher Asset Management that pledged payment within two years, the newspaper said.

A third pension fund, the New Orleans Firefighters’ Pension and Relief Fund, also plans to withdraw money from the investment fund, according to the Journal.

The three pension funds have invested a total of $100 million with Fletcher Asset Management.

“Fletcher reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission a 2009 year-end total for assets under management of $558 million. Yet its primary investment vehicle held just $187.8 million of securities, according to the firm’s financial reports. And these made up 95 percent of the firm’s market investments, according to a Fletcher consultant’s report filed in a New York state court,” the Journal reported.

“This would translate to a 2009 year-end total for the firm’s market investments of about $198 million, more than half of it the Louisiana pension funds’ money,” the report said.

Ascension to study chemical movement

Ascension Parish has hired consultant IEM to determine the amount of chemicals being transported through the parish by truck, train or barge.

“This is the first study of its kind in our area,” Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said in a news release. “Other regions are likely to be interested in what we are doing in Ascension Parish because it provides local officials and their LEPC with situational awareness.”