UPDATED: Thanks to Raimondo, RI Retirees May Own a Piece of AC Milan Via a GOP Mega-Donor

Monday, July 09, 2018
GoLocalProv Business Team

Raimondo made a $70M investment into leading GOP donor Singer's hedge fund
It is unlikely that Gina Raimondo will roll out a television commercial touting that members in the Rhode Island retirement system may now be the proud part-owners of a top-tier professional soccer club in Italy — AC Milan, but thanks to an investment by Raimondo as Rhode Island's General Treasurer it may be a reality.

The ownership interest in the soccer club is tied to a controversial investment decision she made in which she invested $70 million into hedge fund Elliott Management — run by Paul Singer. He was the seventh largest political donor in America in the 2016 election cycle — donating over $26 million to Republican candidates according to Open Secrets.

According to the Financial Times of London, “AC Milan, one of European football’s most successful clubs, is close to being taken over by Elliott Management, after its Chinese owner failed to repay debt owed to the US-based hedge fund. Li Yonghong, who acquired the Italian club last year, has failed to make a €32m payment which was due to paid to Elliott this week, according to people close to AC Milan’s leadership.”

Raimondo and Hedge Funds

Criticism of Raimondo’s hedge fund strategy has come from local and national pundits.

Singer is one of the top GOP donors in America
Rolling Stone cited, “Nor did anyone know that part of Raimondo’s strategy for saving money involved handing more than $1 billion – 14 percent of the state fund – to hedge funds, including a trio of well-known New York-based funds: Dan Loeb’s Third Point Capital was given $66 million, Ken Garschina’s Mason Capital got $64 million and $70 million went to Paul Singer’s Elliott Management. The funds now stood collectively to be paid tens of millions in fees every single year by the already overburdened taxpayers of her ostensibly flat-broke state. Felicitously, Loeb, Garschina and Singer serve on the board of the Manhattan Institute, a prominent conservative think tank with a history of supporting benefit-slashing reforms. The institute named Raimondo its 2011 ‘Urban Innovator’ of the year.”

An expose in The Nation on the linkage between political hedge fund donors and former Governor Chris Christie also link Raimondo to the practice.

”To watchdogs of state pensions, the Christie cronyism story is just the latest example of Wall Street gorging at the public trough. In Rhode Island, State Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, has faced criticism for receiving political support from hedge funds that have been given large management contracts for the state pension program under her leadership,” wrote The Nation.

“Elliot Associates: According to Reuters, Elliott Associates returned 12.4 percent in 2013—in a year when the S&P 500 rose almost 30 percent.34 During the past five years, Elliott gained between 8 percent and 9 percent annualized, depending on the fund. That’s below the S&P 500, said the New York Post,” according to Ted Siedle’s study of the performance of State’s Retirement Fund under Gina Raimondo’s leadership.

Today, Rhode Island retirees have over $104 million invested on Elliott.

Trump Dossier -- funding tied to Singer
Singer, Trump and Russian Dossier

According to the Times of Israel, Singer has direct ties to the so-called Trump Dossier, “The Washington Free Beacon confirmed it originally retained the political research firm Fusion GPS to scour then-candidate Trump’s background for negative information, a common practice known as “opposition research” in politics.”

“Leaders from the Free Beacon, which is funded largely by Republican billionaire Paul Singer, insisted none of the early material it collected appeared in the dossier released later in the year detailing explosive allegations, many uncorroborated, about Trump compiled by a former British spy reported the Times of Israel.

But when Trump looked like he would win the GOP nomination, Singer’s organization’s pulled funding. “But The Free Beacon told the firm to stop doing research on Mr. Trump in May 2016, as Mr. Trump was clinching the Republican nomination."

"Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee had begun paying Fusion GPS in April for research that eventually became the basis for the dossier,” reported the New York Times.

The Trump dossier unveiled the ties between Vladimir Putin and Trump’s business interests. The dossier was written by former British spy Michael Steele.

"Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator from Rhode Island, is a former prosecutor who also serves on the Judiciary Committee. 'To impeach Steele’s dossier is to impeach Mueller’s investigation,' he told me. 'It’s to recast the focus back on Hillary.' The Republicans’ aim, he believed, was to 'create a false narrative saying this is all a political witch hunt,'" reported the New Yorker.

But, once Trump moved towards election Singer moved closer to Trump. According to the Panama Papers, Singer donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration.

Singer’s Elliott: Registered in the Cayman Islands

For those looking to examine Singer’s Elliott Management, the task can be difficult.

According to Open Secrets, some of the biggest hedge funds are carefully masked, “But far fewer people know much, if anything, about Citadel Multi-Strategy Equities Master Fund Ltd., with a gross asset value of $33 billion, or Elliott International, L.P., at $30.8 billion, or AQR Style Premia Master Account, valued at $16.6 billion. All are hedge funds organized under the laws of the Cayman Islands.”

Elliott International is a related fund of Elliott International and both are controlled by Singer.

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