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Prudential Broker Criminally Charged in Fund Scandal

Skifter Ajro is accused of helping place market-timing trades.

Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts filed criminal charges Tuesday against a former


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broker involved in the mutual fund trading scandal.

In a criminal information, prosecutors charged that Skifter Ajro was part of a team of brokers in Prudential's main Boston office who allegedly used fraud and deception to place $1.3 billion in market-timing trades for their hedge fund customers.

Ajro could be the first of several former Prudential brokers to be charged by Massachusetts prosecutors, who have been investigating the matter for more than a year now.

Earlier this summer

first reported that

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prosecutors were nearing a decision on whether to charge Ajro and two other brokers, Martin Druffner and Justin Ficken. Druffner was the leader of the team and he figures prominently in the prosecution's charges against Ajro.

In a criminal case, an information is often filed when a defendant is planning to enter into a plea agreement.

Samantha Martin, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, declined to comment on whether a plea bargain with Ajro was in the works. Ajro's attorney, Daniel Rabinovitz, also would not comment on the possibility of a plea bargain.

But Rabinovitz, an attorney with the law firm Menard Murphy & Walsh, said he's "reasonably certain'' that "this matter will be resolved in a favorable way,'' after the court hears the case.

The filing of the criminal charges against Ajro comes nearly two years after the mutual fund trading scandal made headline news. Soon after the scandal broke, state and federal regulators filed civil fraud charges against Druffner and his team of brokers, as well as some of their former supervisors.

Prudential's brokerage business is now jointly owned by Prudential and


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