U.S. Bancorp, the eighth-largest U.S. bank, said on Thursday that four of its mutual fund portfolio managers have left the firm, Reuters reports.

The managers were let go Monday after refusing an offer to relocate from Milwaukee to the firm’s headquarters in Minneapolis, manager John Potter told Reuters. Potter and Tom Eck co-managed the $1.21 billion First American Small-Cap Select fund, which posted a 44.2% return in 2003, according to fund research firm Morningstar of Chicago.

Two of the managers, Brian Bies and Joseph Frohna, ran the $597 million First American Small Cap Select fund. In February, the bank said the Securities and Exchange Commission was conducting an informal probe of its U.S. Bancorp Asset Management unit because of questionable trading in a security held by Small Cap Growth Opportunities.

However, after conducting a review of U.S. Bancorp’s operations, outside law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart found that none of its employees were guilty of securities law violations .

Apparently, they left to "pursue other opportunities," U.S. Bancorp spokesperson Cheryl Stone told the newswire. "Given our current industry environment, management felt it was preferable to integrate the management of these funds into our headquarters in Minneapolis," Stone said. The specific factors contributing to the move were not disclosed

Potter said the company told him the reasons for the move were "synergies of oversight, research and sales and the benefits of having the structure under one roof." Reportedly not satisfied with those reasons, Potter left the company.

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