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Insurer Settles With SEC Over Private Placement Arrangement

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A financial services company has agreed to pay $3.3 million to resolve charges that a subsidiary let a wealthy family make late variable universal life trades.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission says it has accepted settlement offers from General American Life Insurance Company, St. Louis, a unit of MetLife Inc., New York, and William Thater, a former registered representative who once was the senior vice president in charge of selling General American private placement VUL products.

A New York family paid $20 million for a private placement VUL policy from General America.

Thater approved a written agreement that permitted the family to submit trades up until 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time, while General American required all other users of the underlying mutual funds to submit, confirm and cancel trades before 4 p.m. Eastern Time, SEC officials allege.

Thater and General American offered late-trading privileges to no other fund investors, and the 79 late trades completed from February 2002 to November 2002 diluted the value of the underlying funds by about $3.3 million, officials allege.

After General American compliance personnel noticed the late-trading, Thater shifted to letting the New York family “confirm or cancel” trades after 4 p.m., officials allege.

In addition to the $3.3 million civil penalty that General American has agreed to pay, the settlement agreements call for Thater to pay $163,137 in disgorgement, prejudgment interest and civil penalties, officials say.

Thater will have the right to reapply for permission to associate with brokers, dealers and investment advisors after 3 years.

MetLife and Thater have neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings.

“MetLife is pleased to put this matter behind us,” the company says in a statement.

Thater was not available for comment.


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