US Scandal Snares Dutch Insurers

March 10, 2004 ( - Two of Europe's biggest insurance groups, ING and Aegon have been hit by demands for information about their variable life and annuity products by US regulators as part of the ongoing abusive mutual fund trading scandal.

The two Dutch firms, among the biggest foreign insurers in the United States, said they were cooperating with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in its probe into market timing, Reuters reported. ING, Europe’s No. 3 insurer, said the SEC has requested information on its variable annuity insurance products. Aegon admitted it was involved in the probe and that it had responded to “general inquiries.”

USregulators are conducting a widespread investigation into market timing and late trading including underlying variable life and annuity products.

The market timing and late trading scandal has rocked the US fund industry since it was uncovered last September by New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who launched a sweeping investigation into the practices of major US funds. Last November regulators and prosecutors turned their attention to the insurance sector.

The SEC has requested information on internal firewalls against market timing and late trading of variable annuities — investments offered by insurance companies that let customers put savings into stock, bond or money market funds.