Morgan Stanley Coughs Up $150M for California Pension Losses

LOS ANGELES (CN) – More than a decade after the bottom fell out the U.S. economy and the housing market tanked, multinational investment company Morgan Stanley has agreed to pay California $150 million to settle claims the company hid the riskiness of mortgage-backed securities sold to the state’s public employee pension funds.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the settlement Thursday, saying it will hold the investment giant accountable for its role in the 2007-2008 financial crisis and the loss of millions to state worker pensions.

“Morgan Stanley lied about the risk of its products and put profits over teachers and public employees who relied on its advice,” said Becerra in Los Angeles. “Our work isn’t over.”

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) manages retirement pension plans for nearly 2 million members, both active and retired, while the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) manages retirement pensions for 950,000 members.

Employee pensions lost millions due to Morgan Stanley misleading investors on the risks associated with its mortgage bonds before the 2007-2008 financial crisis, according to the California Attorney General’s office.

Then-Attorney General Kamala Harris sued Morgan Stanley in 2016, claiming the investment company violated the False Claims Act and the state’s securities law when it put together and sold billions of dollars in toxic mortgage-backed securities.

Becerra said the company did not accurately explain the characteristics of the mortgage-backed securities and the high risks associated with them.

From the $150 million settlement, CalPERS will recover $122 million in losses and CalSTRS will recover $8 million. The remaining $20 million of the settlement will go to the Office of the Attorney General to recoup the costs of this investigation and lawsuit.

Morgan Stanley has paid billions to the federal government for the mortgage bonds sold from 2004 to 2007 in the aftermath of the global financial meltdown.

The company did not return an email seeking comment by press time.

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