The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] has sued New Jersey over securities fraud for misrepresenting and failing to disclose to municipal bond investors that it was underfunding the state’s two largest pension plans.
From the SEC: “According to the SEC’s order, New Jersey offered and sold more than $26 billion worth of municipal bonds in 79 offerings between August 2001 and April 2007. The offering documents for these securities created the false impression that the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF) and the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) were being adequately funded, masking the fact that New Jersey was unable to make contributions to TPAF and PERS without raising taxes, cutting other services or otherwise affecting its budget. As a result, investors were not provided adequate information to evaluate the state’s ability to fund the pensions or assess their impact on the state’s financial condition.”
The SEC said New Jersey is the first state ever charged by the agency for violations of the federal securities laws.
New Jersey agreed to settle the case without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings.