The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Kansas with failing to disclose a “multibillion-dollar” pension liability to bond investors.
Documents for eight bond offerings in 2009 and 2010 by the state’s Development Finance Authority didn’t tell investors that a study had pegged Kansas’s public-employee pension as the second-most underfunded in the nation. Kansas, which didn’t admit or deny the findings, put in place new disclosure policies and agreed to settle the case.
“Kansas failed to adequately disclose its multibillion-dollar pension liability in bond offering documents, leaving investors with an incomplete picture of the state’s finances and its ability to repay the bonds amid competing strains on the state budget,” LeeAnn Ghazil Gaunt, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Securities and Public Pension Unit, said in a news release from Washington.
The SEC has been cracking down on faulty disclosure by states and localities that borrow in the $3.7 trillion municipal-bond market.
It settled a similar case with New Jersey in 2010, the first time the regulator targeted a state. Last year, Illinois became the second state to settle with the SEC over charges it misled investors about a growing shortfall in its employee pension funds as it sold $2.2 billion in bonds.
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