California public pension fund invested in blacklisted Chinese companies: congressman

Rep. Jim Banks says CalPERS chief investment officer has 'suspicious' ties to China

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., joined "Mornings with Maria" to explain why he wrote a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighting his concerns about the state public pension fund's chief investment officer having ties to China.

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The fund has invested $3.1 billion in Chinese companies, some of which have been blacklisted by the U.S. government, Banks told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo.

"If this were up to me, I would fire [Chief Investment Officer Yu Ben Meng] immediately because of these suspicious ties," he said. "We learned that Mr. Meng, who is the chief investment officer of CalPERS, was actually recruited to this position by the [Chinese Communist Party] through something called the Thousand Talents Program. Now he's denied it."

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CalPERS stands for the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the largest public pension fund in the nation.

Yu Ben Meng (inset) and the offices of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers) in Sacramento, California. (Photographer: Ken James/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

"What is unusual is that many of these companies are companies that we've blacklisted, that make Chinese military equipment or are responsible for technologies like Hikvision, which is the equipment that's used by the Chinese for surveillance on the Uighur Muslim population that they've been abusing in their own country," Banks said.

The Commerce Department blacklisted Hikvision in October "for engaging in or enabling activities contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States."

CalPERS denied it invests in companies blacklisted by the federal Office of Foreign Asset Control.

"CalPERS' investments in Chinese public equity have decreased in recent years to just over one percent of the Fund," the agency told FOX Business. "These are passive investments made through leading independent index providers. Institutional investors and public pension funds across America use index providers."

CalPERS defended Meng, calling him a "globally-respected financial expert and a proud citizen of the United States."

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