The NASD has fined four broker/dealers affiliated with ING America Insurance Holdings more than $7 million for accepting directed-brokerage payments from 10 mutual fund companies, in violation of its anti-reciprocal rule. The rule is also designed to ensure that execution of portfolio transactions is guided by the principle of "best execution" and not by other considerations.

The companies accepted $25.7 million in brokerage commissions in exchange for giving preferential treatment to the fund companies, NASD said. These benefits included yearly sales goals, special placement on the ING firms' intranet websites, direct links to the websites of the participating fund companies, increased exposure to the registered representatives of the ING firms, participation in annual national meetings.

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