History of government confiscation, raiding, taking of private pension, retirement accounts

Below is a history of the confiscation, raiding, or taxing of private retirement or pension funds by government.  Note that the list only includes instances where private pension or retirement funds were targeted.  There are many other instances of public pension funds being raided by government.  I’ll attempt to catalogue those instances in another post.

Argentina.  October, 2008.
The government of Argentina moved private pension funds into the government social security system.  Government seizes over $30 billion in private pension funds.  The president of Argentina stated the action was "….aimed at protecting investors from losses resulting from global market turmoil."  At the time Argentina was facing a shortfall of $12 billion on a bond payment and refunding the government social security system from private pension funds relieved the government of using other funds.  But, of course, this was not relevant.  The government was only looking out for the interest of the citizens when it stole their money.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Portugal.  December, 2010.
The Portuguese government moved almost 1.8 billion euros ($2.5 billion) of pension fund assets of Portugal's largest phone company (Portugal Telecom) into the government social security system.  Since the pension fund was underfunded, the Telecom agreed to make additional payments into the fund through 2012 to make up the difference between the funds current assets and liabilities.  The government used the funds to reduce its budget deficit for 2010.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Hungary.  December, 2010.
Hungary has a private/public pension system.  Citizens are forced to contribute 24% of their gross wages into the system, 8% of which goes into the private fund, the rest into the government fund. During retirement the government would pay 70% of the pension payouts and the remaining 30% coming from the private fund.  The government would make up the difference if the private fund could not payout the 30%.  In 2010 Hungary gave citizens an option:  they could move all of the private pension funds into the government fund or they would lose the 70% pension payout from the government when they retired.  Also, the government would no longer guarantee the 30% payout from the private fund.  The amount in the fund was estimated at 2.8 trillion forints ($14.2 billion).  Hungary used the money to pay current state pensions as well as paying government debt.  If one chose to keep contributing to the private fund then he/she would still have to pay the government portion.

Sources: 1

Bolivia.  December, 2010.
The Bolivian government nationalizes the nation's two largest private pension plans with an estimated $3 billion in assets.  The government lowers the retirement age to 58 from 65.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Ireland.  May, 2011.
The Irish government instituted a tax that taxed the capital value of private pensions at 0.6% for four years to fund a government jobs initiative.  Only private pensions are taxed, not government pensions.  Tax is expected to raise 470 million euros per year ($2.6 billion total over the 4 years).

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Portugal.  December, 2011.
The Portuguese government moves assets of the four biggest banks, which consists largely of private pension funds, onto the government's balance sheet.  Government acquires 5.6 billion in euros ($7.7 billion).  This was done by the government in order to reduce the deficit to 5.9% of GDP which was a target set during the EU/IMF bailout of the country in 2010.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Poland.  September, 2013.
Half of private pensions are confiscated by the government of Poland in order to be able to borrow more money.  Bond holdings in the private pension fund would be transferred into the state pension system.  The rest of the assets in the private fund (i.e. equity assets) would be transferred into the state system over the next 10 years.  The seizure was done by the government so the government could reduce its debt to GDP ratio.  This reduction would allow the government to borrow more money.

Sources: 1

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