A group of hedge funds, including Oaktree Capital Management LP and Glendon Capital Management LP, has filed a lawsuit against the federal government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The hedge fund group are Puerto Rico bondholders who could suffer losses from bonds that were issued in 2008 to help the island’s retirement system, the Puerto Rico Employment Retirement System (ERS), stay afloat. Unfortunately, beginning in 2013, the ERS investments faltered, leading the pension system toward bankruptcy.
The hedge funds’ complaint comes after PROMESA, the federal oversight board that was appointed to help the island of Puerto Rico address its $73 billion of debt, placed the Commonwealth’s biggest public retirement fund under bankruptcy protection to help restructure $3 billion in pension obligation bonds (commonly called POBs).
The ERS’s bonds can be paid for by pension contributions that public employers make toward the retirements of their employees. The hedge fund plaintiffs thought that these payments would go to them first. However, in June, the federal oversight board approved legislation to transfer these employer contributions beyond the pension system and away from these creditors. Now, the hedge funds want a court order determining that the move was illegal. They are seeking $3.1 billion in principal plus interest on the ERS bonds.