CalPERS investment chief steps down at $400 billion pension fund

(Reuters) - California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) said late Wednesday Yu Ben Meng resigned as its chief investment officer and Dan Bienvenue, deputy chief investment officer, will become interim CIO.

The nation's largest public pension fund, which manages pension and health benefits for more than 1.6 million California public employees, retirees and their families, said in a statement it will begin an immediate search for a permanent successor.

The statement did not disclose a reason for Meng's departure and CalPERS declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Meng, who joined the fund in January 2019, is "resigning, effective August 5", the statement said.

A U.S. citizen born in China, Meng has twice worked for CalPERS - the first time in 2008 and the second beginning in January 2019 when he became CIO managing $400 billion in investments, according to the CalPERS website.

Back in February, U.S. Representative Jim Banks of Indiana in a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom called for an investigation into Meng, citing the CIO's "cozy" relationship with Beijing and assailed the fund's investments in Chinese companies.

Banks, who is a Republican, strongly urged California to fire Meng in the letter.

In defense of the allegations levelled against Meng, CalPERS Chief Executive Officer Marcie Frost said "this is a reprehensible attack on a U.S. citizen. We fully stand behind our chief investment officer who came to CalPERS with a stellar international reputation."

In March, U.S. national security adviser Robert O'Brien said U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is "looking at" investments in Chinese military companies by CalPERS.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)

08/06/2020 7:41

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