BOSTON - In a study examining mutual fund fees, the General Accounting Office has criticized the mutual fund industry and the SEC for not monitoring fees more closely, according to Geoff Bobroff, president of Bobroff Consulting, of East Greenwich, R.I.

The GAO "takes a swipe" at the SEC and the mutual fund industry for not monitoring fees in relation to funds' economies of scale, Bobroff said. He learned of the GAO's criticisms through sources familiar with the study, Bobroff said. Bobroff spoke at an industry conference here last week.

Besides catching the attention of Congress, the study may yield lawsuits, he said. Suits are unlikely while market conditions are favorable, but if there is a prolonged market decline, investors will use the report as the foundation for legal action, he said.

The SEC, meanwhile, may take regulatory action based on the findings of an independent fee study it has conducted, he said. What the SEC decides to do will depend on the SEC's leadership which could change in anticipation of a new administration, Bobroff said.

The GAO fee report has been released to members of Congress but not to the public.

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