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Friday, August 05, 2005

DeSano Faces Civil Charges

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

A legacy of squeezing costs out of Fidelity's trading operations may not be enough to protect Scott DeSano from civil charges. The SEC probe into whether Fidelity traders improperly accepted gifts from brokerages hoping to land business from Fidelity's funds since last winter. In the latest development in that probe, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the SEC sent DeSano a Wells Notice and is now weighing whether to bring a civil case against the top Fidelity trader.

The SEC staff issues Wells Notices to individuals and corporations to give those parties a chance to formally respond to its findings prior to filing a legal action.

The paper did not identify its source for its information, nor did it report on the specifics of the allegations outlined in the notice.

Though DeSano continues to work at Fidelity, he recently took an executive post in the Strategic New Business Development Group. Before the change in responsibilities, he served as the head of Fidelity's trading desk.

As the Boston Behemoth's head trader DeSano build a reputation for squeezing cost concessions from brokerages executing trades from the funds. The WSJ reports that Fidelity's trading costs are half of the typical fundsí, according to research issued by Abel/Noser Corp.

Eight Fidelity traders have already either resigned from or been fired from Fideluity since the first word of the scandal. Another 14 Fidelity employees have been disciplined for accepting gifts from brokerages. DeSano was among those disciplined, according to published reports.

The alleged gifts include tickets to sporting events and entertainment, golf slots with professionals and flights on private aircraft.  

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