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Galvin Keeps Heat On Putnam

Nov 25, 2003 | AP

As Putnam Investments disclosed its assets fell another $9 billion last week, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said yesterday that his office was handling a wave of new tips prompted by regulators' actions over alleged improper fund trading.

Putnam's parent company, Marsh & McLennan Cos., disclosed yesterday that its assets under management fell to $247 billion as of Friday, down $9 billion from the week before and down $30 billion from the end of last month when Galvin and federal authorities accused Putnam of improper trading.

That compared to a $7 billion decline the previous week. Marsh reiterated previous statements that it had found "sufficient liquidity" to manage the redemptions without increasing transaction costs.

Assets under management are determined by two variables: how much investors put in and take out, and the underlying value of the investments.

Meanwhile, in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Galvin said publicity over his investigations into Prudential Securities and Putnam has produced such a heavy volume of tips that law students are poring through some of them. Other portions have been shipped to other states, including New Hampshire.

"Every day, it's like Valentine's Day, I open the mail and find (another) letter," he said.

"It's names on it, addresses, 'call me for details, this is what I think I know,'" Galvin said. "Is it credible, is it factually accurate? I can't say that. What I can say is it's credible enough we're going to make an inquiry, or, if it occurred in another jurisdiction, we'll refer it to another jurisdiction."

He refused to specifically discuss the direction of the investigation but hinted his office was particularly interested in the relationships between hedge funds and mutual fund companies.

"When all is said and done, I think you're going to see a significant relationship, an unhealthy relationship, between hedge funds and mutual funds," Galvin said.

Galvin also said his office was continuing to look into whether mutual fund "wholesalers" fund company employees who deal with big clients such as brokers tipped off customers about how to beat market timing controls at the fund companies. Those allegations were hinted at in Galvin's filing against Prudential.

Market timing, a type of quick, in-and-out trading, is not illegal but is prohibited by many funds because it tends to skim profits from longer-term shareholders.

"We're continuing to depose and review wholesaler records and engage in depositions to determine exactly what they did, ask the companies by whom they were employed what their role was and what their authorization was," Galvin said.

He also reiterated criticism of the Securities and Exchange Commission's partial settlement with Putnam, saying its assurances of restitution which Putnam had already offered are useless without an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and a full accounting of how much investors lost to market timing. In the SEC settlement, Putnam neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing.

"There's considerable dispute between Putnam and my office on the facts ... or what was market timing, how you define market timing," he said. "They would obviously have it more narrow than we would."

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