KAI RYSSDAL: Ever have one of those outings where you get the bill and you wonder whether it was worth it?
Pat Loeb reports now regulators have fined three mutual fund companies $700,000 for trying to win business with expensive meals and fancy trips.
PAT LOEB: Alliance Bernstein, Putnam and Scudder Investments were fined for violating rules against non-cash compensation that could improperly influence brokers.
NASD says the three funds held perfectly permissible education sessions, then spiced them up with perks that violated the rules. Alliance Bernstein bought tickets to Broadway shows for brokers and their guests. Putnam paid for spouses to travel and treated them to Red Sox games. Scudder arranged golf, fishing and horseback riding . . . and threw a party recreating the legendary Hollywood bar “Whisky A-Go-Go.”
JIM SHORRIS: That’s the kind of thing that really doesn’t belong in the mix.
is the executive vice president and head of enforcement for NASD. He says these kinds of favors might lead brokers to recommend the funds out of gratitude instead of the soundness of the investment.
SHORRIS: If the investing public were to lose faith in our industry, that could be absolutely devastating.
Putnam released a statement saying it stopped the practice as soon as it learned it was illegal. The other two firms did not return requests for comment.
In Los Angeles, I’m Pat Loeb for Marketplace
RYSSDAL: We oughta tell you. One of the company’s Pat was telling you about, Putnam, is one of the underwriters of this program.
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