Oaktree, EnCap, Sofinnova under fire for campaign contributions

The three firms, without denying or admitting the SEC's findings, will make settlements totaling $720,000.

Oaktree Capital Management, EnCap Investments and Sofinnova Ventures will settle with the Securities and Exchange Commission over violations relating to state campaign contributions.

The three firms advised public pension funds within two years of making the contributions to officials running for state office whose positions had influence over picking investment advisors to public pension funds, in violation of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, the SEC said in separate statements on each firm.

Between September 2014 and April 2016, three Oaktree associates — which could be the firm’s general partners or executives of similar status — made campaign contributions totaling $2,900 to candidates for elected office in California and Rhode Island.

Los Angeles-based Oaktree, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, will pay a civil penalty of $100,000. The firm had about $110 billion of assets under management as of March 29. Its investors included the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.

In a separate statement the SEC granted Oaktree a waiver as an ineligible issuer, citing “good cause.” Oaktree can maintain its qualification as a “well-known seasoned issuer”, which lets the firm to register its securities offerings and make sales without having to wait for review by the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance.

Between 2012 and 2015, EnCap’s associates made a total of $90,200 in contributions to officials in Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin. The Houston-based firm, with assets of about $30 billion, will settle for $500,000. Its LPs include the Teachers Retirement System of Texas.

In 2014, an associate of Menlo Park, California-based Sofinnova contributed $2,500 to a candidate for governor of Illinois. With about $1.7 billion under management, the investor in life science companies will settle for $120,000. Sofinnova’s investors included the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System.