Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) has agreed to settle the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s charges accusing the firm of misleading investors about the performance of one of its exchange-traded funds and not placing an accurate value on certain fund securities. As part of the settlement, PIMCO will pay almost $20M and hire an independent compliance consultant.
The regulator contends that investors were drawn to the Pimco Total Return Active ETF after, within months of its launch in 2012, it did well enough to outperform the investment management firm’s flagship mutual fund. The fund was previously managed by Bill Gross, PIMCO’s co-founder, and it was intended to mirror PIMCO’s flagship Total Return Fund.
Although Pimco Total Return Active ETF’s initial success is linked to the smaller-sized bonds that were purchased to help boost early performance, in its yearly and monthly reports PIMCO purportedly gave investors other reasons for these early results that were “misleading.” Meantime, the SEC said, PIMCO did not disclose that the initial performance success was a result of an “odd lot strategy”—referring to the purchase of the smaller bonds, which were non-agency mortgage-backed securities—and that this approach that would not be sustainable as the fund continued to grow.