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University of Tennessee Lobbied For A Law to Help Keep Their Investments Secret

Details on Cayman Islands investments are protected under a law passed last year.

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The University of Tennessee’s endowment has invested millions of dollars into private investment funds run by managers whose names and fees are kept undisclosed by a state law the university lobbied to pass.

A significant portion of the money is thought be invested in funds based in the Cayman Islands.

University of Washington in Seattle finance professor Thomas Gilbert told the Memphis Commercial Appeal that “a public university that relies partly on taxpayer money and donor money that is being funneled to these managers, I think that’s just unacceptable.”

The Commercial Appeal used information from The Paradise Papers project from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to compile their report, which quoted UT’s chief investment officer Rip Mecherle as saying that highly skilled investment managers won’t work with schools that don’t have the privacy protections in place. He said he personally lobbied for the privacy law to be passed last year. 

The law is similar to protections that are put in place for retirement funds and universities investments are often a complex web of funds. Still, the Internet wasn’t happy with the news about UT.

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