Forensic Audit Blasts Police And Fire Pension Fund's 'Profound Lack Of Transparency'

Oct 28, 2015

Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee Chairman Bill Gulliford listens while Edward Siedle with Benchmark Financial Services explains the results of a forensic audit of the city's underfunded Police and Fire Pension Fund.
Credit Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT News

Jacksonville’s Police and Fire Pension Fund got a D minus on a recent forensic audit. 

Benchmark Financial Services issued its report on the pension plan today at the City Council’s request.

Auditor Edward Siedle says he based the fund’s near-failing grade on what he called a "profound lack of transparency and cooperation" by its overseers.

“Some of the fundamental documents we need to look at are documents indicating the performance of the investments of the pension. What we discovered was that the documents we were provided were clearly wrong," Siedle said. "So that’s a key issue: if you don’t know how the pension has performed then you cannot analyze how severe the losses may have been.”

Siedle estimates those losses to be at least $370 million. Whether any crimes were committed is yet to be determined.

However, he says, anyone can turn the audit report over to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI or the Florida Attorney General and ask for an investigation.

The City Council Finance Committee is expected to take up the report when it meets next week.

Meanwhile, the head of the Police and Fire Pension Fund is asking for a meeting with Finance Committee Chairman Bill Gulliford.