Category: Archive

Big payout in Emerald Fund plan

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Last April, New York City’s public employee pension funds committed $150 million to the Emerald Fund project.
The cash will be used to improve infrastructure, waste management and develop alternative energy sources throughout the North, as well as investing in green technologies in the U.S.
Comptroller Thompson signed off on the deal at his Manhattan office on the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement as North Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, looked on approvingly.
As well as benefiting the people of the North, the investment package has also benefited a friend of Thompson, broker Bill Howell.
As placement agent on the deal, Howell’s fee was two percent of the pension fund investment. That comes to $3 million.
“The deal was inked April 11, 2008, in New York, the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday peace agreement. Paisley and McGuinness were among the happy observers. It was to be the biggest injection of public funds ever into troubled Northern Island, targeting all those costly big-ticket items-infrastructure, alternative energy, waste management, property development-that went undone as Catholics and Protestants clashed,” the Village Voice stated in its report.
“As it happened, this unquestionably good deed also benefited a good friend. When the private Emerald Infrastructure Development Fund made its first filing with the Securities Exchange Commission in October, it listed one of the comptroller’s oldest and closest supporters, a broker named William Howell, as its placement agent on the deal. Howell’s fee, released pursuant to a Freedom of Information request last week by Thompson’s office, was two percent of the pension fund’s investment – a total of $3 million, plus unspecified bonuses.”
Howell is perfectly entitled to the cash and broke no rules, however revelations that he benefited financially came as news to Comptroller Thompson, who has mayoral ambitions and, according to the Voice, enjoys Howell’s support as a campaign contributor.
“I knew he had an involvement, I just didn’t know he was the placement person,” Thompson told the Village Voice magazine.
the Voice, which described the Emerald Fund in its report as “a wonderful leap of faith,” also revealed that Howell benefited from a further two deals involving New York City pension funds.
Shelbourne Securities, the Massachusetts firm where he is a registered broker, shared fees with other agents on $165 million investments in a large private equity fund, and a biomedical fund.
The comptroller’s office, which last week moved to ban all placement agents from pension fund investments, was unable to say how much Howell earned on these deals.

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