Is Prudential Playing Hardball?

For the public record, at least, Prudential Securities Inc. seems ready to eat crow. On Oct. 21, the nation's fourth-largest brokerage settled Securities & Exchange Commission charges that it defrauded some of the 400,000 investors who bought $8 billion in limited partnerships. Pru neither admitted nor denied the allegations but agreed to set up a fund of at least $330 million to reimburse customers. Chief Executive Officer Hardwick Simmons took out full-page newspaper ads proclaiming that Pru- dential Securities would stand by investors and that claims would be settled in an "expeditious manner." The ad conceded that "certain limited partnerships were sold by our firm to some clients that lacked adequate information or were not suitable. That was wrong."

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