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SEC, NASD Examine Gifts Exchanged With Lazard

Investment bank Lazard has revealed that the Securities and Exchange Commission and NASD are investigating gifts and gratuities it gave and received. The company stated in the amended prospectus for its planned $850 million initial public offering that it had received a letter from the NASD as part of an industry-wide probe of gifts and gratuities.

The investigations center on Lazard's capital markets business, which will be transferred to a newly formed company, LFCM Holdings, after Lazard's IPO. The NASD prohibits brokers from giving or receiving gifts worth more than $100 in a calendar year.

Lazard said it had received a similar subpoena from the SEC requesting information about gifts and entertainment involving an unnamed mutual fund company.

Separately, regulators have been investigating mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments to determine whether its traders accepted lavish gifts from outside brokers as incentives to trade with them.