Franklin Takes Action Against Market Timing Abuses

Franklin Resources Inc. has placed two officers and a trader on administrative leave pending an investigation into improper mutual fund quick trades.

Franklin Resources Inc., the fourth-largest manager of mutual funds, said in a Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it found some cases of frequent trading of fund shares in the personal 401 (k) accounts of a few current or former employees, Reuters reported.

One officer has resigned; a trader and an officer of a subsidiary are on administrative leave pending the internal inquiry. Franklin would not reveal the names of those placed on leave nor of the funds in which the frequent trading occurred.

The company posted a statement on its website Monday that said it has yet to complete the fact-finding process but has found no evidence of improper mutual fund trading by any portfolio manager, investment analyst or officer. Franklin also said it hasn't identified any late trades, the practice of allowing preferred investors to buy fund shares at the closing price after the market closes.

However, Franklin said it has received subpoenas from prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of California and the District of Massachusetts. This is in addition to earlier information requests from the New York attorney general, the Massachusetts secretary of state and the SEC.

"These requests for information and subpoenas do not imply any wrongdoing, and neither Franklin Resources, Inc., nor any of our subsidiaries or personnel, has been named in any complaint by the SEC or any other government agency in connection with these ongoing investigations," the company said in a statement.

The SEC has asked Franklin to supply documents and testimony on how the company compensates brokers who sell fund shares. As of Nov. 28, Franklin decided it would no longer direct trades to firms.

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