Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Former San Diego Officials Settle SEC Charges Over Failure to Disclose Pension Costs

The SEC announced that four former San Diego officials have agreed to pay financial penalties for their roles in misleading investors in municipal bonds about the city's fiscal problems related to its pension and retiree health care obligations.  It's the first time that the SEC has secured financial penalties against city officials in a municipal bond fraud case.  The SEC settlement requires judicial approval.

The SEC filed charges in April 2008 against former San Diego City Manager Michael Uberuaga, former Auditor & Comptroller Edward Ryan, former Deputy City Manager for Finance Patricia Frazier, and former City Treasurer Mary Vattimo.  According to the SEC, he officials knew the city had been intentionally under-funding its pension obligations so that it could increase pension benefits but defer the costs. They also were aware that the city would face severe difficulty funding its future pension and retiree health care obligations unless new revenues were obtained, benefits were reduced, or city services were cut. However, despite this knowledge, they failed to inform municipal investors about the severe funding problems in 2002 and 2003 bond disclosure documents.

The four former officials agreed to settle the SEC's charges without admitting or denying the allegations and consented to the entry of final judgments that permanently enjoin them from future violations of Securities Act of 1933 Section 17(a)(2). Under the settlement terms, Uberuaga, Ryan, and Frazier each pay a penalty of $25,000 and Vattimo pays a penalty of $5,000.

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