April 24, 2020

USA: California Public Pension Fund Invested In Blacklisted Chinese Companies. California Pension Fund Board Slams CIO for Selling Off Hedges ahead of Coronavirus Market Downturn TO HELP CHINA.

Fox Business News
written by Evie Fordham
Thursday February 13, 2020

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., joined "Mornings with Maria" to explain why he wrote a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighting his concerns about the state public pension fund's chief investment officer having ties to China.

The fund has invested $3.1 billion in Chinese companies, some of which have been blacklisted by the U.S. government, Banks told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo.

"If this were up to me, I would fire [Chief Investment Officer Yu Ben Meng] immediately because of these suspicious ties," he said. "We learned that Mr. Meng, who is the chief investment officer of CalPERS, was actually recruited to this position by the [Chinese Communist Party] through something called the Thousand Talents Program. Now he's denied it."

CalPERS stands for the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the largest public pension fund in the nation.

"What is unusual is that many of these companies are companies that we've blacklisted, that make Chinese military equipment or are responsible for technologies like Hikvision, which is the equipment that's used by the Chinese for surveillance on the Uighur Muslim population that they've been abusing in their own country," Banks said.

The Commerce Department blacklisted Hikvision in October "for engaging in or enabling activities contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States."

CalPERS denied it invests in companies blacklisted by the federal Office of Foreign Asset Control.

"CalPERS' investments in Chinese public equity have decreased in recent years to just over one percent of the Fund," the agency told FOX Business. "These are passive investments made through leading independent index providers. Institutional investors and public pension funds across America use index providers."

CalPERS defended Meng, calling him a "globally-respected financial expert and a proud citizen of the United States."
National Review
written by Tobia Hoonhout
Friday February 21, 2020

The CEO of California’s public pension fund said Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.) had made “baseless accusations” about the fund’s chief investment officer being involved in Chinese espionage — but did not deny that Yu Ben Meng had been recruited to the “Thousand Talents Program.”

Marcie Frost, the head of California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), also admitted that her organization — the largest public pension fund in the country with “approximately $400 billion in global assets — had increased its Chinese investments in 2019 after shifts in “well-established indexes.”

“CalPERS rebalanced its portfolio in light of these changes accordingly, resulting in the removal of 143 stocks and the addition of 198 stocks. Nearly half of the companies added were Chinese companies because the MSCI and FTSE indices changed to include China A-Shares,” she wrote in a Thursday letter to Banks.

Banks told National Review that Frost’s comments “failed to answer two fundamental questions raised in my letter to Governor Newsom,” which he sent last week over concerns about Meng’s history.

Meng emigrated to the U.S. from China to study at the University of California, Davis. He initially worked for CalPERS in 2008, before returning in January 2019 as CIO. From 2015 to 2018, Meng worked as deputy CIO with China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), which oversees China’s U.S. Treasury security holdings.

In his letter to Newsom, Banks highlighted a 2017 Chinese article which mentioned Meng’s role in Beijing’s Thousand Talents Program, which provides under-the-table funding to U.S. citizens in exchange for valuable information.

“First question: Is Mr. Meng a member of the Thousand Talents Program, something the FBI called a ‘non-traditional espionage program?’” Banks said Friday after Frost’s response. “Second question: Since Meng came back as Chief Investment Officer of CalPERS, has CalPERS invested in companies that are affiliated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army?”

The Indiana Republican added that he wanted to hear from Meng over comments he gave to “the Chinese communist rag People’s Daily.”

In the 2017 article, Meng mentions that his “roots were in China,” and says that “in human life, if there is an opportunity to serve the motherland, such responsibility and honor cannot be compared to anything.”

Published Feb 17: Calif Pension Fund Manager A Communist Party Recruit Investing Pension Fund Money in Chinese Military.

National Review
written by Tobia Hoonhout
Wednesday April 22, 2020

Yu Ben Meng — the chief investment officer of California’s public pension who has ties to Chinese espionage — sold off the fund’s investments in hedges against market downturn without the approval of the pension’s board, a move that cost the fund a billion-dollar payout following the coronavirus market crash.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Meng, who assumed his role as CIO for California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) — the country’s largest public pension fund — in January 2019, reportedly made no mention of the fact that he had mostly exited the three funds when asked about them during a March teleconference with the board.

“They should perform well in this kind of a down market, as they were exactly designed to do,” Meng answered, according to a call transcript. “And from what we know . . . most of these strategies are performing as anticipated.”

Board members told the Journal that they had not been aware of the shift in investment strategy, which CalPERS began in 2017 by investing in three “tail risk” funds, which deliver big payoffs in the case of market downturns.

“He took away a risk strategy that the board had approved without telling the board,” board member Margaret Brown, who asked Meng about the funds, told the Journal.

Meng told the Journal that the move was part of a broader strategy to cut costs and shift funds to higher returns. “Knowing what we know, we would make the exact same decision,” he stated. The fund began exiting the positions in October — before news of the coronavirus pandemic — and by March it only had a residual stake in one of the funds, LongTail Alpha LLC, that returned less than $200 million.

LongTail reported in an investor letter that it had a March return of 156 percent. Another fund that CalPERS withdrew from, Universa Investments LP, said it returned 3,612 percent.

The CalPERS board is scheduled to meet this week to discuss “how much authority it delegates to investment staff.” Meng came under fire earlier this year after being accused of participating in China’s “Thousand Talents Program,” which provides secret funding to U.S. academics and entrepreneurs in exchange for valuable information.

Meng emigrated to the U.S. from China to study at the University of California, Davis, and worked as deputy CIO for China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) — which oversees China’s U.S. Treasury security holdings — prior to his appointment at CIO. A 2017 interview Meng gave to a Chinese state-sponsored newspaper mentions his role in the program, and includes comments from Meng saying “in human life, if there is an opportunity to serve the motherland, such responsibility and honor cannot be compared to anything.”

Under pressure from Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.), CalPERS CEO Marcie Fros did not deny that Meng had been recruited to the “Thousand Talents Program,” but called the allegation that he was serving Beijing’s interests “baseless.”


For those of you who don't know, The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the armed forces of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and of its founding and ruling political party, the Communist Party of China (CPC).

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