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Whistle Blower Peter Scannell and Market Timing Scandals

Peter Scannell - Market Timing ScandalIn March 2000, Peter Scannell had only a fundamental knowledge of how a mutual fund company worked. Despite this, he got a job at Putnam Investments' call center in Quincy , Massachusetts .

Peter Scannell was only working there a short time when he became aware of efforts by outside investors to make rapid trades in and out of Putnam.

Calls would flood the call center in the late afternoons between 3 and 4 pm. The trades were made by eager investors ready to make huge transfers, reflecting a practice known as market timing.

 

When U.S. stocks surged, the boilermakers bought into funds composed of foreign companies, which had finished trading before prices for those funds were set at 4 p.m. They were betting that the international markets would follow Wall Street's trajectory the next day, scoring them a quick profit.

Market timing is not illegal. However, it can erode the gains of long-term investors.

Scannell says he told supervisors he thought the transfers might be against the National Association of Securities Dealers' rules. His supervisors laughed at him saying it was not his concern and that it wasn't illegal.

With this Scannell told his bosses he would no longer accept transfers from known market timers. His bosses were furious.

Two days later, Scannell was hit in the head with a brick by a man wearing a "Boilermakers Local 5' sweatshirt. The Boilermakers Local 5 union were one of the groups known to Scannell as engaging in the market timing scandal.

Undeterred, Scannell went to the Boston office of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Five months went by. The agency didn't act on his tip, even though he had documents that backed up his claims which he had taken the day after he quit.

 

Finally, the Massachusetts regulators stepped in. They determined that in the last three years at least 28 of the unions members made between 150 and 500 trades, scoring gains of up to $1 million each. The investigators also zeroed in on two e-mails from the firm's internal monitors: It appeared they had been aware of the troublesome activity since the spring of 2000.

This led to state civil fraud charges against Putnam, the resignation of its CEO, Lawrence Lasser, and the withdrawal of more than $20 billion from its funds.

 

See Other Market Timing Scandals Here

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