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May 10
2004

Mutual Fund Scandal: Are Fines Enough?

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Morgan Stanley agreed to pay a $50 million penalty, and Alliance Capital has reserved $190 million for future penalties, following a settlement with Putnam Investments. But in view of avalanching allegations against mutual fund managers, the interest of the investing public goes beyond fines, penalties, and investor settlements.

 

The primary issue here is, Were investors defrauded and laws broken?

 

If investigators say yes, then guilty parties need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Securities cases may be complex, but any criminal offense must be prosecuted and those responsible punished appropriately.


Government agencies, including the SEC, may want to levy fines and declare a public relations victory, but a victory that leaves criminals out of jail is unsatisfactory. In the wake of the Enron, Tyco and WorldCom scandals, the public must demand those committing investment fraud and white collar crimes be punished.


If a thief walked into a bank, held up a teller, and left with $5,000,would a prosecutor settle for a fine? Would the robber pay a $25,000fine and walk free?


We need to apply the law to anyone who has betrayed the trust of millions of investors, and treat them as a common criminal. The job of the government is to determine if a criminal act was committed. If yes,then jail would be the appropriate destination of the perpetrators. Ifno crime was committed, then the government needs to step back, and simply allow investors to make investment decisions.


There is much at stake here. 



First, there is the matter of justice. Second, the matter of eroding corporate character or trustworthiness. Third, the matter of investor confidence.

Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach

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