Spitzer Probing Insurance Companies

January 23, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has subpoenaed a handful of insurance companies to examine whether mutual fund market timers took advantage of variable annuities to time mutual funds.

Spitzer is examining insurance companies, and their variable annuity products, since life insurance and mutual fund companies will often join forces to sell mutual funds in variable annuity format.   “This brings in another set of firms,” Spitzer told the New York Post.   The variable annuities industry has about $1 trillion in assets.

Joining New York’s Attorney General in examining these relationships is the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).   “We’re concerned that market timing and/or late trading were permitted in variable annuity products, and that’s why we’ve asked insurance companies for information relating to trading in funds that were sold as part” of those products, SEC enforcement head Stephen Cutler told the New York Post.  

Even thought Spitzer’s office would not divulge which insurance companies were issued subpoenas, sources told the Post that Conseco was being investigated.   Lincoln National Corp. and Hartford Financial Services Group also have said they received subpoenas from Spitzer, and TIAA-CREF indicated it had received a SEC subpoena in late 2003.