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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Investigation: SBA relies on smoke and mirrors

Front and center on its Web site, the agency that invests $118 billion for Floridians showcases its code of ethics: "It's all about … Trust — Performance — Integrity.'' Most people take that as an article of faith, that the state is investing money for retirees and others wisely. But when the agency has fielded inquiries, it has often been about obfuscation, omission and falsehood.

When a community college employee asked if his pension money was in risky securities sliding on Wall Street, the answer he got was misleading and false. When a city official with $26 million invested with the state asked if the money was safe, the people who run the state fund brushed him off.

When another city official asked if a $425 million investment was safe, the agency gave an answer the city considered so misleading that it asked the FBI to investigate.

When the agency's employees privately fretted about losses and shaky investments, their bosses told retirees and state and local officials that everything was fine. They even misled the three people charged with oversight of the agency: the governor, the chief financial officer and the attorney general.

St. Pete Times investigation here.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 5:58pm]


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