Securities regulators reportedly are investigating whether sales agents at Prudential Securities forged the signatures of clients or took other improper steps in order to roll over annuities in their accounts.

The probe began after the company, a unit of Prudential Financial ( PRU), notified the NASD that certain brokers and managers had clients sign blank forms or forged signatures of clients who were replacing one annuity with another, according to The Wall Street Journal. That would violate New York securities laws.

"We believe the fact that we discovered this problem and reported it to regulators and plan to reach out to our clients demonstrates that Prudential will not tolerate the failure of any of our employees to strictly adhere to regulatory requirements," the newspaper quoted Prudential spokesman Bob DeFillippo saying.

In December, Prudential asked about 15 managers, financial advisers and salespeople to resign, and reprimanded or fined 15 or so others. The actions occurred after the company discovered "irregularities" in nearly 1,000 contracts signed by customers of Prudential Securities nationwide between 1998 and 2002, according to Prudential.

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