CalPERS Disclosure Woefully Incomplete

Last month, CalPERS sent peHUB a list of private equity firms that used placement agents when pitching their funds to pension officials. It included the fund name, placement agent name and whether or not CalPERS invested. It also claimed to represent proposals received by CalPERS between the beginning of 2002 and the end of 2008.

What I’ve since learned, however, is that the list was woefully incomplete.

Take the example of Wetherly Capital Group, which we wrote about earlier today. CalPERS reported that it pitched 10 funds between 2002 and 2008, receiving six commitments (a steroid-induced batting average). But according to new documents obtained by peHUB, Wetherly actually pitched approximately 30 funds during that period — including a couple of “missing” ones that received investments from CalPERS.

A CalPERS spokesman acknowledges that the list was incomplete — a caveat that was included neither on the original list nor in my original correspondance with CalPERS.

We’ve since requested a revised list, and hope to receive it soon. But no idea if this one would be comprehensive. Part of this is simply that CalPERS didn’t require placement agent records until recently, which means that a lot of the new information is based on voluntary submissions by general partner (some of which were in preemptive CYA mode).

But it also reflects how legal, investment and PR staff at the nation’s largest pension fund are desperately playing catchup, amid intense sniffing from media and prosecutorial hounds. I don’t know if CalPERS intentionally misled us or not. What I do know is that it needs to do better.