Employees of maligned fund giant Putnam Investments tiptoed around company procedures in the area of expense payments, several Putnam funds admitted in a series of disclosures to shareholders.

The policies of Putnam Fiduciary Trust Co., a 401(k) arm of Putnam, were "willfully circumvented," the disclosures say, during 2002. The employees’ rule circumventions centered around expense payments, the company says, although a spokesperson would not elaborate exactly what they did wrong. The disclosures, eight in all, were filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The alleged improprieties are the latest in a long line of Putnam problems, which has already shifted top management and partially settled with the SEC for its role in both mutual fund market timing and some 401(k) non-disclosures.

A Putnam internal review stemming from its role in the mutual fund scandal is what uncovered the 401(k) transgressions, according to Putnam spokesperson Laura McNamara, who also said that everything has been corrected. No employees were named specifically. Previously, two Putnam 401(k) managers who have since left the company were nabbed for not disclosing operational errors that led to losses in five retirement plans.

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