In addition to agreeing to pay $650 million to settle charges brought by federal regulators, the embattled securities firm Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. will also have to deal with state securities regulators, including those in Utah.
"Any state has the ability to take action and fine them, and I want to know how many Utahns got ripped off," said John Baldwin, director of Utah's Division of Securities.He said he did not know of any Utahns who may have lost money as a result of Drexel's alleged manipulation of stocks.
"There were undoubtedly Utah people who were harmed, but until I look at the facts I can't say."
Drexel has already agreed to pay the state $12,500 in fines for violations unrelated to the much-publicized insider trading case involving the firm's junk bond operation, Baldwin said. The recent fine settles violations stemming from the securities firm failing to register two mutual funds.
Baldwin explained that no investors lost money in Drexel's Series Trust or DBL Tax Free mutual funds, which recorded sales of $6 million in a two-year period. Failure to register the funds with Utah and other states, he said, resulted from a slip-up at the firm's home office.
"It was a technical violation and they settled it with a reasonable fine," Baldwin said. "The next question is this insider trading settlement."
Baldwin, also president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, said Drexel has approached the national organization to discuss settlement with state regulators. He said NASAA has set up a committee to deal with the issue to avoid separate investigations by each state.
Drexel spokesman Steve Anreder said it is too early in the settlement process with federal regulators to comment on how the firm will deal with NASAA and individual states.
"We recognize the states are something we will have to deal with, but we still haven't finalized the settlement with the (federal) government," he said.
The New York City-based securities has offered to pay $650 million - the largest fine so far in the government's probe of insider trading and fraud on Wall Street - and plead guilty to six felony counts of securities fraud. The settlement is contingent on Drexel settling a pending civil suit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Anreder said a settlement with the SEC would not include monetary penalities in addition to the proposed $650 million settlement fee.
Asked if state securities commissions are bound by a federal settlement, Baldwin said states work with the SEC, but can take independent action against individuals and companies.
"There may be some states who would say, `You've paid enough,' but they could get hit twice," he said.
But, while some states may levy fines, Baldwin doubted if any state would pull Drexel's license to do business.