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U.S. Justice Dept. Joins Probe Into Jefferies Gifts

The United States Justice Department has joined the Securities and Exchange Commission and NASD in investigating gifts Jefferies brokers allegedly gave to mutual fund companies, the firm indicated in its annual report. Regulators are also looking into potential violations related to travel and entertainment expenses.

While Jefferies does not name the mutual fund complex in question, the SEC and NASD have been looking into gifts, such as Super Bowl tickets and exotic trips, which 20 brokerage houses, including Jefferies, may have given to traders at Fidelity Investments (see MME 12/20/04). Regulators are also looking into "trading with and for the mutual fund complex," Jefferies indicated.

While the firm said it does not expect the investigation to have material bearing on its finances, it indicated, "an adverse determination could be material for a particular period." The firm also said it is fully cooperating with the investigations.