Fidelity Investments said yesterday it could face civil action from federal regulators in a probe of whether its traders sent company business...
BOSTON — Fidelity Investments said yesterday it could face civil action from federal regulators in a probe of whether its traders sent company business to brokerage firms that offered gifts and gratuities, rather than to firms offering the best deals on trades.
Fidelity, which has been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) since last fall, said in a statement that the company had received a notice from the SEC that “the staff is considering recommending that the commission bring a civil action” against two of Fidelity’s investment businesses, Fidelity Management & Research Co. and FMR Co. Inc.
Spokesmen for the SEC declined to comment, citing agency policy not to publicly discuss ongoing investigations.
Fidelity said it has been cooperating with the SEC and other investigations involving conflicts of interest related to brokers’ gifts to traders at Fidelity and other firms.
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Besides the SEC probe, Fidelity and rival mutual-fund companies face a gifts investigation by an industry organization, the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD). And a federal grand jury recently began investigating whether some of Fidelity’s traders were given gifts by Wall Street bank brokers in an effort to win Fidelity’s trading business.
Fidelity began its own review amid the SEC and NASD probes.
No one has been charged with wrongdoing, but more than a dozen Fidelity employees have been disciplined, and at least five traders have left the firm, which manages about $1.1 trillion in assets.
Fidelity spokeswoman Anne Crowley said none of the company’s current employees received notices indicating they could individually face civil action from the SEC.