NU Online News Service, Dec. 17, 2004, 5:50 p.m. EST

A unit of MetLife Inc., New York, could face legal action by federal regulators.[@@]

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has sent the unit, New England Life Insurance Company, Boston, a “Wells notice.”

The notice says the SEC staff is considering recommending a civil action against New England Life, according to MetLife.

The SEC has been looking at a $31 million charge MetLife took in the second quarter of 2003 in connection with expenses that the unit deferred, MetLife says.

The SEC may bring a civil action alleging that the deferral of expenses violated securities laws, MetLife says.

MetLife notes that it is co-operating with the SEC in the investigation.