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Fleet Executives in Funds Scandal Are Put on Leave

Feb 26, 2004 | Wall Street Journal

FleetBoston Financial Corp. (FBF, news), responding to civil fraud charges in the mutual-fund trading scandal, placed on leave eight portfolio managers and executives, including the co-presidents of its funds-distribution unit, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

Those who are on leave include James Tambone and Louis Tasiopoulos, co- presidents of Columbia Funds Distributor Inc., the sales and marketing arm for Fleet's Columbia Funds, this person said.

On Tuesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the New York attorney general's office alleged that senior executives at Columbia approved secret agreements to let sophisticated investors trade rapidly in mutual funds at the expense of ordinary shareholders. Regulators said traders engaged in $2.5 billion of rapid-fire transactions in at least seven mutual funds from 1998 to the summer of 2003 at Fleet's Columbia Funds and its predecessors.

John Pappalardo, an attorney for Mr. Tambone, confirmed that his client had been placed on leave. Mr. Tasiopoulos couldn't be reached for comment on the matter.

Messrs. Tambone and Tasiopoulos both joined what is now Columbia in 1997 from Boston neighbor Putnam Investments, the Marsh & McLennan Cos. unit that has also faced civil fraud charges in the mutual-fund scandal.

A FleetBoston spokesman declined to comment. On Tuesday, Keith Banks, chief executive of Columbia Management Group, said the company had accepted about $147 million in market-timing money at peak moments, and that the damage to shareholders amounted to about $25 million.

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