Ben Meng, hired just 18 months ago as investment chief for the state’s largest public employee pension system, resigned abruptly August 5, leading Bloomberg to report that “a sense of crisis was descending over the mighty California Public Employees’ Retirement System.”
“Wednesday night’s shock departure of Ben Meng reverberated through the state capital and then across Wall Street on Thursday, where the $400 billion CalPERS is a powerful player in everything from the stock market to private equity. Meng, in an interview, said he’d left to focus on his health and family. But a statement from the state controller pointed to something else: an unspecified lapse in judgment that breached conflict-of-interest rules and, even more, hinted at wider oversight problems inside the organization.”
Controller Betty Yee called for an emergency board meeting to review the funds’ policies and “the CEO’s oversight and implementation of these policies, and any additional safeguards necessary to ensure this does not happen again.” She didn’t elaborate on what happened.
Bloomberg said Meng’s tenure was “a brief, tumultuous run marred by underwhelming investment returns and wild conspiracy theories about his supposed links to the Chinese Communist Party.” (Source: Bloomberg, August 6.)