News that the Oklahoma State Pension Commission today approved a resolution asking the governor and legislature to distribute money from the state’s legal settlement with WorldCom sounded the charge from the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which asserts that the funds should be used to replenish state retirement systems hurt by the company’s misrepresentations.
At issue is some $12 million paid to the state as a deferred compensation agreement by WorldCom Inc. due to artificially inflating the value of its stocks and its bonds. While part of the agreement stipulated that the company assist Oklahoma in economic development, resulting in an initial payment to the state Commerce Department, state pension funds, heavily invested in the company, lost some $58.8 million.
“We are ready to fight for these funds to be placed back where they belong, and that’s in state pension funds,” said OPEA executive director Sterling Zearley. “While our organization certainly supports economic development in the state, we feel that our retirement systems have enough troubles being funded without regaining monies that were lost.”
Zearley adds that OPEA will be in attendance at the next OPERS meeting and will continue to report on the issue.