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The Ohio state insurance fund for injured workers fired its top investments manager Wednesday following more than $300 million in fund losses and the disappearance of as much as $13 million invested in rare coins. Chief investments officer James McLean had been on paid leave since June as increasing financial losses were discovered at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. He has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing but was fired for poor performance. McLean’s leadership of the investment department, responsible for handling the bureau’s $14 billion portfolio, did not meet expectations, said agency interim administrator Tina Kielmeyer. McLean, 51, was hired in July 2003. A message left Wednesday at his home seeking comment was not immediately returned. The bureau’s investment policies came under scrutiny in April when The (Toledo) Blade reported the agency had invested $50 million in rare coins. Since then, the agency has acknowledged more than $300 million in losses, including $215 million in a hedge fund. Gov. Bob Taft forced out the agency’s former director after coin dealer Tom Noe acknowledged up to $13 million of the coin investment was missing. Noe, a prominent Republican contributor, is now under federal investigation. The Securities and Exchange Commission twice warned the state, in 2002 and 2004, that it might be paying brokers too much for handling routine investments. In response to the problems at the agency, the state this year shifted the responsibility of hiring the investment chief from the bureau’s top administrator to a five-member oversight commission. The commission plans to hire a consulting firm before choosing a replacement for McLean, said commission chairman William Sopko. Amid the investigations, Ohio’s governor was charged with ethics violations for failing to report gifts of golf outings. He pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts last month. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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