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Corporations and securities brief ~ Bear Stearns faces SEC action over illegal fund trading

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's corporations and securities law news, the SEC [official website] has concluded Bear Stearns Cos. [corporate website], the sixth-largest US securities firm, violated federal laws which protect investors when it aided brokers in making illegal after-hours mutual-fund trades. The SEC may announce today that it has reached a settlement with Brean Murray & Co. [corporate website], a New York brokerage. Under the terms of the settlement Brean Murray will pay $150,000 to settle allegations it aided violations made by an unnamed clearing firm that processed trades. The clearing firm is Bear Stearns. Bloomberg has more.

In other news...

  • The Justice Department's antitrust division [official website] has started an investigation into railroad coal pricing practices at Union Pacific Corp. [corporate website] and BNSF Railway Co. [corporate website]. Coal-industry trade publications are reporting BNSF and rival Union Pacific are trying to raise rates as they come into public pricing. Both companies indicate they will cooperate with the probe. AP has more.

  • The SEC has started into Bancinsurance Corp. [corporate website] over its accounting practices. The practices gained scrutiny after the company's independent auditor, Ernst & Young [corporate website], withdrew its approval for financial reports for 2001 to 2003. Columbus Business First has more.

  • Yukos [corporate website; JURIST Hot Topic archive] CEO Steve Theede is hopeful of making a deal with the Russian government over the multi-billion dollar back taxes owed before the auction of Yukos' key production unit. Yukos is currently fighting to gain jurisdiction in a US bankruptcy court to avoid having to conduct litigation in unfriendly Russian courts. Yukos is attempting gain bankruptcy protection in the US despite its lack of assets beyond two bank accounts of borrowed funds. AP has more.

  • A Ukranian court has found the sell-off of a Ukrainian steel mill, Krivorizhstal, to be illegal. Krivorizhstal had been sold cheaply to friends of the previous Ukranian administration. New President Viktor Yushchenko [official website; English version] indicates the new administration will revisit many of the recent privatizations. BBC News has more.

  • The injunction and asset freeze against Mutual Benefits Corp., one of the nation's largest death benefit companies, has been extended. The SEC accused the company of defrauding up to 30,000 investors out of more than $1 billion in securities sold since 1994. Read more about the fraud at Mutual Benefits Corp. AP has more.
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