The Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Securities, will offer assistance to the 3,000 Utah investors who have claims against Prudential Securities Inc.

Last month, the division announced a settlement with Prudential to resolve allegations of massive misconduct. Prudential allegedly made substantial misrepresentations to investors with the sales of limited partnerships during the 1980s. According to division estimates, Prudential sold up to $18 million of these investments to Utahns."Settlement claim forms are now being mailed and we're finding out that many people are in need of assistance in the filing process," said Mark Griffin, director of the Division of Securities.

"As part of the settlement, Prudential has paid the division a substantial fine and we intend to use much of that to provide claimants with the help needed to move the claims through the process."

The division estimates nationwide that Prudential will pay at least $372 million in claims and fines.

In a settlement of fraud allegations by state and federal regulators, Prudential agreed in October to provide at least $330 million to investors who claimed they were misled in limited partnership deals between 1980 and 1990.

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Prudential neither admitted nor denied the allegations. But as part of the settlement, Prudential is required to track down investors who bought into its partnerships during the 1980s and inform them as how to make a claim for part of the settlement money.

Although the Securities Division has recovered investors' funds in the past, it is unusual for the agency to provide ombudsman-type services. "The magnitude of this problem requires innovation on our part. Ironically, many Utah investors, because of their losses, do not have the resources to seek professional assistance. I feel it is very appropriate that the division provide this kind of help."

The division has hired a temporary professional and will set up an electronic data base of Utah claimants.

Claimants in the Salt Lake area who need assistance should call 530-6600. Claimants who reside outside the metropolitan area may call 1-800-721-SAFE.

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