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At least one Illinois pension fund may be impacted by FTX bankruptcy

By GREG BISHOP
The Center Square

At least one public employee pension fund in Illinois says it may have been impacted by the bankruptcy of a digital currency exchange that sent ripples through the investment world.

Digital currency exchange FTX went bankrupt last month, saying it owes creditors over $3 billion.

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund announced this week it has about $4.5 million of its $45.5 billion in investments indirectly exposed to FTX through a venture capital asset manager.

“The developments at FTX are concerning, and we are monitoring the situation closely. Through our venture capital asset managers, IMRF’s indirect exposure to FTX represents less than 0.01 percent of the total IMRF portfolio,” the fund announced on its website.

IMRF manages the retirements of local government retirees across the state.

Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said while the impact may be only 0.01 percent of IMRF’s investments, the announcement is troubling.

“We know that one of our pension funds is invested in this crypto-type investment so I think it begs the question, what about the rest of Illinois’ pension funds and is the risk managed and controlled,” Dabrowski told The Center Square. “Every single pension fund should be answering that question and be transparent about it.”

The Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System has the largest liability of Illinois’ funds.

“The FTX bankruptcy has had no effect on the TRS portfolio,” TRS spokesman Dave Urbanek told The Center Square in an email. “TRS has no direct or indirect investments in cryptocurrencies.”

TRS has about $60 billion in investments.

The Illinois Treasurer’s office also told The Center Square none of its $50 billion of public investments are invested in digital currencies.

Dabrowski said the IMRF revelation requires a deep audit of all the state’s pension funds to ensure they’re clear of risky investments.

“It’s not just risk to FTX, we should understand our pension funds and whether they’re taking bigger and bigger risks given how hard the stock market and bond market has been,” Dabrowski said. “So, we really need to see a lot of transparency coming from all these pension funds.”

IMRF said partnering with a diversified pool of managers that have diversified strategies “minimizes the brunt of any one investment loss for the fund.”

“Be assured that as a risk-management tool, IMRF’s portfolio is diversified across asset classes, managers, strategies, sectors, and geographies,” the fund said. “In a word, we don’t put all our eggs in any one basket, and we continue to manage a stable and well-performing portfolio.”

 

Associate Editor Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.

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