New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and the SEC recently questioned ING Group, the European insurer, about market-timing activities within its variable annuities, according to the International Herald Tribune. Spitzer and the SEC later last year have widened a probe of ordinary mutual funds to include rapid-fire trading of sub-accounts for variable annuities also managed by mutual fund companies. MetLife and The Hartford were also reportedly questioned about potential trading abuses that may have harmed their long-term variable annuity investors. Variable annuities are particularly attractive to market timers because individual sales of investment sub-accounts are not taxable; investors only pay taxes on profits withdrawn from their contracts. SEC investigators are also examining internal policies aimed at curbing market timing and late -rading abuses at Conseco, IHT reported. Aegon, which is scheduled to report its 2003 results today, called questioning from the SEC a routine matter of business and declined to comment on recent exchanges with regulators.
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