In a letter sent to State Investment Council Chairman Tom Byrne today, Singleton listed his concerns over the state’s investment in the private equity firm, JLL Partners, which used New Jersey’s pension funds to help finance the 2006 purchase of ACE Cash Express, Inc., the nation’s second largest payday lender.
Singleton first noted that ACE Cash Express is banned from doing business in New Jersey, which creates a concerning conflict since New Jersey’s pension system is an indirect owner of the company. He further underscored the fact that ACE was fined $10 million last year by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for pushing payday borrowers into a cycle of debt through illegal tactics that included harassment and false threats of lawsuits or criminal prosecution.
“How can we allow New Jersey pension funds to be associated with this type of activity? The answer is simple. We cannot,” Singleton stated. “If JLL Partners is not willing to divest its ownership of ACE Cash Express, then the State of New Jersey should immediately divest its interest from JLL Partners. The citizens of New Jersey deserve better.”