WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission is seeking information from more than two dozen pension fund managers, placement agents, and other intermediaries about finders fees or other payments they may have received in exchange for business, a commission spokesman said yesterday.

The firms include Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Credit Suisse Group, UBS AG, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Placement agents place pension fund business with firms in return for finders' fees.

The SEC's query comes amid ongoing investigations by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the commission into a massive pay-to-play scheme involving the New York state pension fund that have led to enforcement actions against numerous individuals and firms and spread to other states.

It also comes as SEC chairman Mary Schapiro has asked the commission staff to dust off and re-propose, in some form, a rule proposed in 1999 that was designed to prohibit investment advisers from engaging in pay-to-play practices. The 1999 rule was modeled after the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board's Rule G-37 prohibiting muni dealers and their municipal finance professionals from engaging in pay-to-play practices. But it was never adopted due to opposition from lawmakers and industry groups.

In March, Cuomo indicted, and the SEC filed civil charges against, Henry "Hank" Morris, a top political adviser and chief fundraiser for former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi and Dvaid Loglisci, former deputy comptroller and chief investment officer for the retirement fund.

The charges alleged the men steered state pension fund investment business to private equity firms and hedge funds in return for millions of dollars of kickbacks.

Since then, the probes have spread to other states, including Texas, New Mexico, and California and have touched many firms, including the Quadrangle Group, a private activity firm formerly run by Steven Rattner, an adviser to President Obama on auto industry bailout efforts.

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