US broker's former chairman under investigation by SEC

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The Independent Online
THE US Securities and Exchange Commission is examining the destruction of documents by the former chairman of Prudential Securities at a time when the Wall Street broker was facing lawsuits from investors.

Prudential said yesterday that in March it gave the SEC a copy of its severance settlement with George Ball, the chairman, who was forced out in 1991. The SEC probe centres upon a requirement that Mr Ball destroy certain documents.

Prudential has been at the centre of a storm of litigation over the past few years, sued by thousands of small investors who lost money on limited partnerships which were sold via the broker's large retail network during the 1980s. The company is making payments to some investors and set up a special fund as part of an October 1993 settlement with the SEC and various state regulators.

Bill Ahearn, a Prudential spokesman, said yesterday that although a copy of the severance agreement had been turned over to the SEC, the firm had heard nothing more from the regulators.

'The agreement was that he turn documents over,' Mr Ahearn said, but when Mr Ball argued that some documents were of a personal nature, Prudential agreed to let him destroy some of them.