WASHINGTON – Four former chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission said yesterday that directors of mutual fund boards need to do a far better job of monitoring the funds they oversee and prevent the kind of fraud that has run rampant on Wall Street the past year.

Harold Williams, who oversaw the SEC from 1977 to 1981, said that fund directors need to alter their attitudes about their jobs and think of themselves as "owners" to which fund managers and corporate stock issuers are accountable.

The admonishments came during a two-day meeting here of the Mutual Fund Directors Forum, a consortium of fund trustees based at the Northwestern University School of Law. More than 100 board trustees gathered here to discuss ways that fund trustees can improve corporate governance. The event was hosted at the Watergate Hotel, perhaps an ironic location for the event, considering the site spawned one of the most virulent political scandals in the nation’s history.

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