TALLAHASSEE — Attorney General Pam Bondi on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Bank of New York Mellon, alleging the bank overcharged the state retirement fund by millions of dollars for foreign currency exchange in violation of the Florida False Claims Act. BNY Mellon serves as custodian of the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund and is involved in a majority of transactions regarding the fund.
With the suit, Bondi takes over a whistle-blowers' lawsuit alleging that the bank defrauded Florida's pension fund with a secret markup on billions of dollars, collecting a higher currency-conversion price than it actually got and pocketing the difference. The whistle-blowers filed a similar lawsuit in Virginia.
"Every penny that state and local employees entrust to Florida's pension fund is hard-earned, and we will not allow Floridians' money to be lost due to fraudulent activity," Bondi said in a prepared statement. "Overcharging for foreign-exchange transactions is essentially stealing, and any company that does so will be held accountable."
Bank officials issued this statement: "The lawsuit filed by the Florida attorney general is unwarranted and reflects a flawed understanding of foreign currency markets. We will fight these claims in court and are confident we will prevail. We value our client relationships and are always prepared to respond to our clients' questions about the pricing of our services. While our first choice is always an amicable resolution, we refuse to be coerced into paying for and admitting to wrongdoing where none exists."