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Thursday, November 13, 2003

Massachusetts Couple Found Timing

by: Nicole Halsey

A Massachusetts couple have proven that the average investor is savvier than he is given credit for.

Ex-Massachusetts employees Jerome and Susan Eng timed international mutual funds they invested in through their state retirement account and were recently ordered to stop the practice, The Boston Globe reports.

Timothy Cahilll, treasurer of the $2.9 billion Massachusetts State Retirement Plan, said the couple made more than 100 trades this year between international stock funds and money market accounts, including two dozen recently. The Eng’s activities was first discovered in September by Capital Guardian Trust Co. which manages an international equity fund for the dc plan. A review found that the couple had traded in and out of the Capital Guardian fund and another international fund managed by Barclays Global Investors.

However, Cahill’s office acknowledged that the state’s employee deferred compensation rules do not prohibit market timing. Jerome Eng told the Globe that this is precisely why he and his wife should not be faulted. “It should be their fault for allowing that,” he said.

Meanwhile, Eng said the couple had already stopped their activity after receiving a certified letter from Cahill’s legal instructing them to “cease and desist from engaging in this trading practice.” Information on how much the couple made timing was not available at presstime. To date they are the only participants out of the plan’s 241,113 participants caught timing.

In the meantime, Massachusetts first deputy treasurer Doug Rubin said his office plans to develop a policy regulating short-term trading over the next two months including a plan to halt market timing.

Cahill’s office recently ordered money managers and financial custodians of Massachusetts state retirement plans to review their policies and procedures toward timing.  

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