Market regulators in the United States are investigating the activities of the Swiss banking group, Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), on the American financial markets.
CSFB is one of a number of major financial institutions suspected of flouting the law by charging exaggerated commissions in return for arranging the flotation of shares on the stock market.
In a statement on Thursday, CSFB in New York confirmed that it was under investigation in the US. It said market regulators and the examining magistrate in Manhattan had issued a formal request for documents on the issue of share certificates to clients.
In addition to Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldmann Sachs and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter are also under investigation. The three security houses are the most important banks of issue in the US, accounting for 50 per cent of the market.
According to Thomson Financial Securities Data, since mid-1998 shares with a total value of $165.8 billion (SFr280.2 billion) have been floated on the US market.
Thomson says suspicions were raised when, in a number of cases, the share price rocketed immediately, earning investors fat profits. The company said that in around one third of flotations, the share price doubled within the first day.
The Wall Street Journal said the investigation was begun following an anonymous tip-off to market regulators.
swissinfo with agencies