PricewaterhouseCoopers has released a study on the role of public pension funds in securities class actions. Notable results:
(1) The number of cases with public pension funds as lead plaintiff has steadily increased since the passage of the PSLRA in 1995 – from 4 cases filed in 1996 to 56 cases filed in 2002.
(2) Of the more than 100 active cases where a public pension fund is acting as lead plaintiff, 80% allege accounting issues.
(3) In 2003, 15 settlements averaging over $120 million were reached in cases where a public pension fund served as lead plaintiff — sixteen times the average value of the remaining 85 cases settled last year.
There are a lot of conclusions that could be drawn from this data, but it is certainly clear that public pension funds are taking the lead in large accounting fraud cases.