The Press Newspaper
Ohio's strength is in its people. I am always inspired by hardworking Ohioans who are trying to hold things together in difficult economic times. My office will always look for ways to protect Ohio workers, our greatest resource.
Therefore, I am greatly distressed that some Wall Street corporations and executives seem to act with total disregard for the life's work of regular Ohioans. Indeed, the damage our economy has suffered in the past few years has been caused, in no small part, because of misconduct and wrongdoing on Wall Street.
The Attorney General's Office represents Ohio's five public pension funds, which have more than $130 billion in investments. These funds provide retirement, disability and survivor coverage to more than 1.5 million people.
The future of these funds is vital to many Ohioans, ranging from the police officers and firefighters who keep our communities safe to the teachers who educate our children. They – and their families and dependants – rely on the health of Ohio's public pension funds. Ohio's workers deserve a stable pension system and peace of mind in retirement. Accordingly, my office is entrusted with protecting these assets and seeking compensation from those who have harmed them by violating the law.
In 2009, my office has been pursuing eight major cases against wrongdoing on Wall Street. In these cases, our immediate clients are the Ohio pension funds, but in many of them we have pursued relief also on behalf of all other investors and retirees who have been harmed by the alleged misconduct, both in Ohio and nationwide. To date, we have succeeded in recovering more than $2 billion in compensation, which will help Ohioans and others across the country.
Our securities lawsuits include actions against AIG, Bank of America, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Marsh, Merrill Lynch and UnitedHealth. Many of these are names you will recognize from the controversy over the federal bailout of Wall Street firms. When appropriate, we also have pursued recovery against certain current and former executives and officers of those companies who participated in violations of the law.
Additionally, my office recently filed a lawsuit against the three largest credit rating agencies, Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch. The rating agencies have an important duty to offer objective information about the relative security of investments so that investors can make informed decisions. Yet we believe it is now clear that the rating agencies gave inaccurate ratings of financial products known as mortgage-backed securities. Furthermore, significant conflicts of interest, such as improper compensation practices, existed between the rating agencies and those they rated. As a New York Times writer put it recently, what was going on was "a bit like a restaurant paying a critic to review its food, and only if the verdict is highly favorable."
If we are to have a healthy financial system that offers a level playing field for all of us, everyone has to play by the same set of rules. When my office takes action against those who break the rules, it is because we need to hold those people accountable. Only then will we have confidence that by investing in the nation's capital markets, we can be sure that we are getting a fair shake rather than playing a game rigged by others to their special benefit.
Most importantly, Ohioans who have invested their life's savings to provide for their retirement years and for their children and grandchildren should not see their futures harmed by some bad actors on Wall Street who think they play by a different set of rules than everyone else does. I see it as my duty to fight for Ohio investors and retirees, and you can be certain that I will do everything in my power to fulfill that duty.
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