Securities regulators have launched a formal investigation into the sales practices of annuity brokers at New York-based brokerage firm Prudential Securities, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The National Association of Securities Dealers’ probe comes on the heels of an internal investigation, which revealed that some managers or brokers at Prudential might have forged documents to have clients replace one annuity with another, the newspaper said.

"We believe the fact that we discovered this problem and reported it to regulators and plan to reach out to our clients demonstrates that Prudential will not tolerate the failure of any of our employees to strictly adhere to regulatory requirements," Prudential spokesman Bob DeFillippo told The Journal.

In December, Prudential gave 15 employees their walking papers as a result of its investigation, prompting 11 of them to pursue legal action to clear their name of any wrongdoing. The actions occurred after the company discovered irregularities in nearly 1,000 contracts signed by its clients between 1998 and 2002, the company said.

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