The Securities and Exchange Commission is asking the Town of West Warwick, R.I. to fork over documents relating to its pension board’s previous actions, according to James Thomas, the town's manager.
In a meeting Monday, Thomas said he met with West Warrick Pension Board Chairman Geoffrey Rousselle, two other Pension Board members, and Town Solicitor Timothy Williamson in an executive session to discuss the SEC subpoena. He said the SEC request appeared on the Town Hall’s doorstep on Aug. 11.
According to Thomas, the subpoena asks for roughly 21 requests for documents from the board. Additionally, the SEC also implemented an Aug. 24 deadline for the inquiry.
When asked if he could provide reasons for the SEC request, the Town Manager said that he could not offer any further details. He directed all other questions to Rousselle, who was unavailable for comment today.
Additionally, an SEC spokesperson declined comment on the West Warwick request.
“Right now the position of administration is that this is an investigation that is non-public,” Thomas said in an interview. “I think it would be premature to comment on what the purpose is.”
However, according to a report in The Providence Journal, the request centers around the Board’s interaction with Arizona-based real estate firm Cole Capital.
According to the report, the Board’s investment with Cole Capital has faced scrutiny since April when former financial consultant P-Solve Asset Solutions advised trustees against it. P-Solve later resigned from its duties.
Furthermore, the Board’s $3 million investment, which was committed to the firms’ Cole Credit Property Trust III, was ordered by trustees to be returned back to the pension assets at a May 10 meeting. And a month later, trustees passed a motion to send a letter to Finance Director Malcolm Moore to replete the fund with the Cole investment, this according to the pension board’s meeting minutes.
In a phone conversation Tuesday, a Cole Capital spokesperson said the firm is in full cooperation with the SEC investigation, but stated that he could not comment any further.
As of press time, additional calls placed to Dan Desmarais, head of business development at P-Solve’s Framingham, Mass. location, were not returned.
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