Book says ex Quebec pension chief devalued assets

Tue May 19, 2009 2:51pm EDT
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By Pav Jordan

TORONTO (Reuters) - A newly published book says the former chief of Canada's top pension fund, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, devalued the fund's assets in 2002 as he ushered in a bonus and banking culture at the storied institution.

"La Caisse dans tous ses etats", or "The Caisse in all its Stages", looks at the fund since its early days in 1965, and says its six years under the leadership of then-President and Chief Executive Henri-Paul Rousseau represented a cultural sea change.

The Caisse, an arm's-length agency that manages investments for various public and private pension plans in the province of Quebec, managed C$120.1 billion ($103.9 billion) in assets at the end of last year.

Author Mario Pelletier says in his book, published last Friday, that Rousseau devalued certain assets in 2002, among them cable company Videotron, to improve results in subsequent years.

"He was being very conservative, of course, but it served his purpose to make him look better in the year after, the first complete year of his mandate in 2003," Pelletier told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The Caisse denied the allegations on Tuesday and demanded Pelletier print a correction or retraction.

It pointed out that in February 2006, the Montreal daily newspaper La Presse published a retraction after making similar allegations.

"The Caisse has informed Quebec's auditor general of allegations made in a forthcoming book entitled 'La Caisse dans tous ses etats', by Mario Pelletier," it said in a statement.   Continued...