Investment Company Institute President Matthew Fink told Congress yesterday mutual fund managers who violated securities laws should be jailed.

"Those who violated criminal laws should be sent to prison," Fink said. "The law enforcement message must be loud, tough, clear and memorable."

The Securities and Exchange Commission has come under criticism for settling quickly with Putnam Investments, without any punishment being handed out to violators. The strongest argument came from New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who wrote a scathing op-ed piece in Monday’s New York Times saying his office would never have settled so easily.

Fink went on to say that individual investors hurt by market timing and late trading should be compensated immediately, emphasizing that some larger investors were permitted to "prey" on the smaller ones.

ICI, the fund industry’s most powerful lobbying group, recommended to the SEC several industry reforms, including a strict 4 p.m. deadline for fund companies themselves ( not intermediaries; see news item above) as well as a 2% redemption fee for any mutual fund investor selling shares within five days of buying.

The SEC has said that it is mulling over these and many other suggestions as part of its ongoing attempt to rectify problems in the industry. SEC Chairman William Donaldson defended the quick settlement with Putnam, saying "The settlement is not the end of the commission's investigation of Putnam. We are also continuing to examine the firm's actions and to pursue additional remedies."

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