PA Pension Fund Sues Goldman over Bonuses

January 22, 2010 ( pension fund for a Pennsylvania transit authority has sued Goldman Sachs over the Wall Street firm’s controversial bonus program and leveled allegations that the Goldman compensation policy has hurt the fund’s holdings in Goldman stock.

In the suit filed in Delaware Chancery Court by the pension fund at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), the fund demanded that Goldman executives and not the company itself pay the $500 million in charitable donations Goldman is making after being hit with criticism over whether its bonus policy was excessive.  

The SEPTA suit charged that the Goldman bonuses substantially exceed what competitors pay, “even though, on a risk-adjusted basis, Goldman’s officers and managers have performed over the past several years in a manner that is, at best, only average,” according to a Reuters news report. SEPTA runs the public transit system in the Philadelphia area.  

According to a Philadelphia Inquirer account of the suit, SEPTA owns about $1 million in Goldman stock, at current values. “The value of that stock dropped because of excessive fees that management took out,” SEPTA general counsel Nicholas J. Staffieri told the newspaper. 

Goldman spokesman Ed Canaday told the Inquirer:  “We believe the lawsuit is completely without merit.” 

The SEPTA pension fund had about $640 million in assets at the end of September, down from $719 million in June 2008, the Inquirer reported.