The former Evergreen Investments portfolio manager who was found to have engaged in allegedly improper trading of his own mutual fund shares likely was Prescott Crocker, former skipper of the Evergreen Precious Metals Fund and its High-Yield Bond fund, according to fund research firm Morningstar.

Morningstar analysts Christopher Davis and Jeffrey Ptak cited a regulatory filing the company made late last year in which it disclosed that the trading took place in the $293 million Evergreen Precious Metals Fund. However, Morningstar criticized the firm for failing to adequately explain the circumstances to shareholders.

Wachovia Corp., Evergreen’s parent company, said the Securities and Exchange Commission is considering civil charges against the fund complex but did not disclose the name of the manager, although it said he was no longer with the company.

Long before the SEC launched an investigation into these questionable trading practices,, Evergreen mentioned the improper trades in a footnote on page 17 of the fund’s annual report last October. No further disclosures were made regarding the matter.

Morningstar characterized Evergreen’s handling of the matter as "very disconcerting" The company has yet to provide a full accounting of what happened. "Evergreen did the bare minimum and hope the problems would simply go away. That doesn’t cut it," Morningstar said. The Chicago-based fund-tracking firm urges Evergreen investors to "closely monitor the situation."

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