The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged two subsidiaries of Prudential Financial with failing to disclose conflicts of interest and making misleading disclosures to the boards for 94 funds they advised.
The enforcement includes nearly $33 million in fines levied against the subsidiaries: AST Investment Services and PGIM Investments.
According to the SEC’s order, AST and PI served as investment advisers to 94 insurance-dedicated mutual funds. In 2006, the funds were reorganized so Prudential could receive certain tax benefits while the funds suffered losses.
AST and PI cost the funds tens of millions of dollars in interest income when they temporarily recalled securities the funds had out on loan, according to the SEC. Also, the funds’ reorganization subjected them to less favorable tax treatment in certain foreign jurisdictions; Prudential did not promptly reimburse the funds for resulting losses despite the subsidiaries’ assurances it would do so.
The SEC’s order acknowledges AST and PI self-reported the conduct after initially failing to disclose it during an examination, cooperated with the staff’s investigation, and voluntarily reimbursed the funds over $155 million. The order censures AST and PI and requires them to disgorge an additional $27.6 million, pay a civil monetary penalty of $5 million, and cease and desist from committing any further violations.
“Investment advisers must be vigilant in monitoring for conflicts related to actions taken by affiliates and must act consistently with their representations to their clients,” said Dabney O’Riordan, Co-Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit. “Here, AST and PI acted to benefit their parent company despite the costs those acts imposed on their clients.”
AST and PI did not admit or deny the SEC’s findings.