US SEC probes dealings with sovereign funds -WSJ

Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:24pm EST
* Probing banks, private-equity firms for bribery -WSJ
* Letters of inquiry sent to as many as 10 companies -WSJ
* Companies include Citi, Blackstone -WSJ

NEW YORK, Jan 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission is investigating whether banks and
private-equity firms violated bribery laws in their dealings
with sovereign-wealth funds, The Wall Street Journal reported
on Thursday.

The newspaper, citing people familiar with the matter, said
the SEC has sent letters of inquiry to as many as 10 companies
in the past week. Among the companies are Citigroup Inc (C.N)
and private-equity firm Blackstone Group LP (BX.N), the report

One person familiar with a firm that received a letter said
it was brief, indicating the investigation was at the early
stages, the Journal reported.

Sovereign-wealth funds have in recent years invested in
private-equity funds and the biggest Wall Street firms, taking
stakes in Citigroup, Merrill Lynch & Co before its acquisition
by Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), and Morgan Stanley (MS.N).
For example, in 2007, China Investment Corp, which manages
more than $300 billion, invested in both Morgan Stanley and

An SEC spokesman declined to comment. (Reporting by Nadia Damouni;
Editing by Gary Hill)
Source: Reuters.Com