Three subsidiaries of The Hartford agreed to pay $55 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges that they used assets from the company’s mutual funds and annuities, in the form of commissions from directed brokerage business, to pay for marketing and distribution costs.

Forty million of that was in ill-gotten gains, and $15 million is a penalty.

The three subsidiaries are Hartford Investment Financial Services, HL Investment Advisors and Hartford Securities Distribution.

“Hartford told the fund investors that shareholders would not pay for the marketing and distribution of fund shares, but then used the funds’ assets rather than Hartford’s own assets to meet its shelf space obligations,” said Linda Thomsen, director of the SEC’s division of enforcement.

According to the SEC, The Hartford entered into agreements with 61 broker/dealers between 2000 and 2003 in which it agreed to pay for shelf space. But instead of using its own funds to pay for that shelf space, which it told shareholders it would do, the firm directed trades to those broker/dealers, thereby using the funds’ own assets to pay for those commissions.

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