Friday, July 01, 2011

Thomas: No Conflicts of Interest with Bond Investment Firm

Jonathan Thomas, the newly elected chairman of the $3 billion California stem cell agency, plans to continue his financial ties to a Southern California bond investment firm.

Thomas, who is being paid $400,000 annually by CIRM for four days of work each week, said no conflict of interest exists in his relationship with Saybrook Capital of Santa Monica, Ca. Thomas co-founded the firm and is currently a partner.

In response to an inquiry from the California Stem Cell Report, Thomas said in an email,
"I checked with Board counsel again on the Saybrook issue.  My relationship with Saybrook does not create a real or perceived conflict for me as Chair of CIRM's Governing Board.  Saybrook is not involved in the issuance or underwriting of State General Obligation bonds.  Indeed, Saybrook stopped underwriting muni bonds altogether over 10 years ago when it raised its first distressed muni fund. That fund and the subsequent funds in the series are focused principally on distressed corporate-backed or project-backed municipal bonds.  Furthermore, even if we were still in the underwriting business (which we're not and will not be in the future), the State Treasurer, not CIRM, decides who the State will work with to issue bonds on behalf of CIRM and other state agencies.  In light of these facts, I do not believe there is a perceived conflict, much less a real one.  I will, of course, work with CIRM's counsel to ensure that I comply with the letter and spirit of California's conflict of interest laws."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Hmmm. Wasn't John Thomas elected because he had specific experience in the bonds that CIRM needs? He's now reassuring CIRM that he has never worked on such bonds! There's something wrong here.