Fidelity Investments said late Thursday that it disciplined 14 stock traders and that two others have left the company amid an ongoing investigation into whether they accepted excessive gifts from brokers to whom they directed business.
The Boston mutual fund titan issued a statement saying that it has uncovered violations of its gift policies but that the improper behavior did not result in "any financial loss to the Fidelity mutual funds or to any shareholder." In light of these transgressions, Fidelity has strengthened its policies within its investment arm including stricter gifting guidelines and a greater effort to make employees more aware of the rules.
"We hope that by drawing attention to these policy revisions and enlisting the support of the brokerage community in enforcing them, we and the industry will focus on ending the practice of extensive gift-giving," said Fidelity spokeswoman Anne Crowley.
The two traders who left under the pressure were identified as Robert Burns and Thomas Bruderman, Jr. Bruderman,36, is the son-in-law of former Tyco International CEO Dennis Kozlowski who was ousted for using company money to finance his extravagant lifestyle.
The NASD prohibits brokers from accepting or receiving gifts worth more than $100 within one calendar year. While mutual funds are not bound by NASD regulation, many have their own set of rules regarding gifts. Fidelitys policy bars its employees from accepting gifts or forms of entertainment that are intended to "influence a funds investment decisions or trading activity."
Fidelity also said it is reviewing relationships between employees and members of their families in positions at other firms that do business with Fidelity funds. So far, it has not found any instances in which family relationships have resulted in any harm to its funds or shareholders.