It’s Monday night: do you know where your acting guild’s pension money is? Stephen Diamond, the Santa Clara law professor and Hollywood labor analyst and one-time candidate for SAG executive director, asks a very pertinent question about new documents disclosed in this class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District in New York: “What was a union pension fund doing investing in the complicated offshore deal in the first place?” The disclosures come as SAG and AFTRA leaders are trying to become one union. AFTRA’s Retirement Fund Board Of Trustees is now one of the pension funds suing giant JP Morgan Chase because of an investment vehicle made for the AFTRA membership. The allegations are that the bank protected its own interests in a multibillion dollar Cayman Islands offshore fund called Sigma while the clients lost their money. (Like, duh. That seems to be the definition of Big Banking in recent years…) When the Sigma fund began to get into trouble, JP Morgan made loans to the fund that helped generate $1.9 billion in fees for the bank but failed to withdraw AFTRA’s investment in time to avoid huge losses, The New York Times reports. Diamond says: “AFTRA’s lawsuit raises some important questions about fiduciary duty. But one wonders, what about AFTRA’s fiduciary obligation to its members? When it was approached by the bank about dumping millions of dollars of actors’ money into an offshore tax haven, did it consider the risks sufficiently?”
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