“We are winning,” a determined top lawyer to the New Mexico State Investment Council declared at its June 26, 2012 meeting. The SIC’s Chief General Counsel Evan Land outlined the SIC’s strategy of “flipping” and “leveraging” “seventeen or eighteen of the worst actors” to reach bigger fish and bigger pots of money that may compensate New Mexico for enormous losses allegedly caused by politically motivated investments during the administration of former Governor Bill Richardson. News that one of the key defendants in the SIC’s case had been tracked down in France drove home Land’s point that the SIC is on the offensive and moving forward.
“We served Marc Correra in the lobby of his Paris apartment building,” Land reported during the public session of the State Investment Council’s monthly meeting. Correra’s former wife revealed in the course of their divorce that Correra had fled the United States believing he could escape his legal problems. According to Land, Correra’s response to being found and served was less than courteous. The SIC’s lawyers employed the Hague Convention to serve the suit on Correra. Land also reported that Anthony Correra, Marc’s father, had been served a total of three separate times “so there would be no doubt” he had been brought under the court’s jurisdiction and must defend the claims against him or face a crushing default judgment.
The Correras are at the center of a “pay to play” scheme allegedly operating under Richardson’s tenure as governor from 2003-2009. Anthony Correra is alleged to have acted in Richardson’s name to steer investments to political friends of Richardson and to generate millions in third-party placement fees for his son and others.
Related story: Rolling Stone: How “Pay to Play” Worked for Bill Richardson
The SIC has sued Richardson’s former State Investment Officer, Gary Bland, Richardson’s close friend and political fundraiser Guy Riordan, Saul Meyer and Aldus Equity, who served as equity advisors to the SIC, and other Richardson allies and fundraisers for reaping millions of dollars from a complicated plot in which over $2 billion dollars in assets belonging to New Mexico’s permanent funds were invested on the basis of political connections and financial support for Richardson instead of the
best interests of the beneficiaries of those funds. Some of those funds suffered almost immediate losses. The total amount of damage to the Permanent Funds is not specified in the suit.
Michigan Democrat who became a Richardson friend when they served together in Congress. Individuals who managed New York State pension funds and have been convicted for their crimes with a similar scheme in that state are also included in the suit on the allegations they duplicated the scheme in New Mexico.
The State Investment Council’s complaint against the Correras and others is linked here.
Coast to Coast Corruption
The SIC”s complaint alleges a nationwide network with Richardson at the hub–though Richardson is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The lawsuit repeatedly asserts that political pressure emanating with Governor Richardson or a member of his staff was brought to bear on State Investment Officer Bland to direct investments to Richardson’s supporters. Marc Correra and others with political connections to Richardson then reaped tens of millions of dollars in undisclosed, and sometimes illegal, third-party placement fees, even though they performed no work other than, as in one case with Correra, offering a hotel suggestion and meeting the investment advisers for dinner.
Land announced that all motions to dismiss had been denied and “no one got out.” The judge has set the end of December as the start of the discovery period, and encouraged settlement talks. After that, in Land’s words, “all war breaks loose.” The SIC has retained a private firm in Connecticut staffed, according to Land, with former federal prosecutors and SEC attorneys and investigators. The judge has suggested a trial in mid-2014 in the absence of settlement.
The SIC, Land announced, has so far collected $400,000 in its litigation. While a small sum in comparison to the losses suffered by the Permanent Funds, Land pointed out this is more than anyone else has collected and is just a step on the way to “larger resource pools.” A federal grand jury has been looking at facts related to the SIC’s suit but has produced no indictments thus far. The Securities and Exchange Commission has simply closed its file. And the New Mexico Attorney General’s office has similarly been unproductive.
Governor Susana Martinez said she wanted to “visit” in executive session the issue of removing the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office from the case. Judge Singleton has ruled that third-parties may not seek the AG’s removal as that call is to be made only by the SIC. Allegations of conflicts of interest within the Office of Attorney General Gary King have been made and there has been some grumbling about a lack of results from the AG’s Office in pursuing wrongdoing in the SIC under the Richardson administration.
The unprecedented presentation by the SIC’s Chief General Counsel had also been scheduled for executive session, away from the eyes and ears of the public. But at the request of Governor Martinez, and with the concurrence of Land and other members of the SIC, he made his comments during the SIC’s regular meeting.
Related story: More Details About Richardson Grand Jury Trickling Out
Governor Points to Possible AG Conflict, by Thom Cole of the Albuquerque Journal