Fidelity to Pay $42 Million to Mutual Funds

Chairman apologizes for "improper behavior"

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  • Conducting Due Diligence of Sub-Advisors and Third-Party Advisors Engaging in due-diligence of sub-advisors isn’t just a recommended best practice— it is part of the fiduciary obligation to a client. An RIA should be extremely reluctant to enter a relationship with a sub-advisor who claims the firm’s strategy is proprietary.
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In response to the scandal over favors given to some Fidelity mutual fund equity traders and supervisors by certain broker/dealers from 2002 to 2004, Fidelity chairman Ned Johnson apologized to shareholders, customers, clients and employees, and said Dec. 21 that the company would pay $42 million plus interest to its mutual funds "for this misbehavior and the company's failure to stop it"--a penalty recommended by its independent trustees, which included as its head at the time the new Defense Secretary, Robert Gates.

The Trustees' report on the scandal found that "... inadequate supervision and other shortcomings exposed the Funds to the potential risks of adverse publicity, loss of credibility with their principal regulators, and loss of Fund shareholders."

Earlier this month, one of those brokerage firms implicated in the scandal--Jefferies Group--agreed to pay a fine of nearly $10 million to NASD and the SEC to settle charges that it illegally spent $2 million in entertainment and other gifts, like expensive golf trips and the use of private jets, on the Fidelity fund traders. Jefferies also agreed to hire an independent consultant to review its compliance procedures.

The Trustees' report is available at

http://personal.fidelity.com/global/content/independent-report.shtml.cvsr?refhp=pr&ut=A47; Johnson's open letter is at

http://personal.fidelity.com/global/content/edward-johnson-lt.shtml.cvsr?refhp=pr&ut=A48

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