SSgA Hit with Two More Subprime Suits

Lawsuits against State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) over its money management decisions to put client funds in subprime mortgage-related vehicles continue to pile up.

The latest suits come from a Texas health care system and a public employee pension fund alleging that SSgA made unauthorized subprime investments that resulted in client losses, according to the Houston Chronicle. Filing two separate suits were Memorial Hermann, the state’s largest not-for-profit health care system, and the $3 billion Houston Police Officers’ Pension System.

The police pension suit estimated a $20 million loss while the Memorial Hermann case accuses the Boston-based firm of orchestrating investments that eventually lost $50 million, the Chronicle said. In both suits, SSgA was accused of fraud and not sticking to agreed-upon investment plans.

“It was sold as a low-risk investment fund when in fact 94% of the fund was invested in the subprime market — and that’s just not something they told the police system,” pension fund lawyer Robert Burford, told the Chronicle. “To say that the system was shocked is an understatement.”

The police fund serves 2,400 retirees nearly 5,000 active officers making contributions.

Charles R. Parker, who represents Memorial Hermann, told the newspaper that State Street misled the hospital system to get their business. The company managed about $100 million of hospital construction money, he said.

Memorial Hermann also sued its investment consultant, Cambridge Financial Services, which was supposed to work with State Street to “make low-risk investments” that would preserve the hospital system’s capital.

State Street spokeswoman Arlene Roberts told the newspaper the company intends to “vigorously defend ourselves against inappropriate claims” based on what SSgA insists were market forces beyond its control. “We are disappointed by the Houston Police Officers’ decision as well as Memorial Hermann to pursue the matter in court,” Roberts said.

State Street Global Advisors manages assets of more than $2 trillion.

Several pension funds across the country have sued State Street over the subprime issue. The Alaska Department of Revenue recently won a settlement for its state workers and retirees. At least four similar lawsuits are pending against the company in a New York federal court district (See State Street Faces Two More Lawsuits Over Bond Fund Losses).

Last month, the investment firm announced that it would set aside $618 million to cover the legal costs associated with its subprime investment strategy (See State Street Names New SSgA Chief, Takes $279M Reserve).