May 23, 2002                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

Montana to receive a half million in Merrill Lynch settlement Morrison says decision contingent upon agreement of all 50 states


       State Auditor John Morrison announced that Montana stands to receive $500,000 in the settlement of a lawsuit between New York state and Merrill Lynch. The money would go to the state's general fund.
      "We are all taking a hard look at conflicts of interest and other practices that harm innocent investors," said Morrison, Montana's Securities Commissioner. "This case represents a significant step in that direction."
      Merrill Lynch agreed to pay $100 million to settle charges that it misled investors with its research on stocks of companies that also were investment-banking clients. The company will pay $48 million to New York state and $52 million to settle with all other states. Payments to other states are based on their percentage of the U.S. population.
      "We commend the New York attorney general for taking the lead on this issue," Morrison said. "Maintaining the integrity of our investment markets is vital to our economy."
      Montana's receipt of the settlement dollars is contingent upon all 50 states agreeing to the terms of the settlement. States must agree not to take any action against Merrill Lynch related to the specific allegations of this case. The settlement would not adversely affect any cases pending in the Montana Securities Department, Morrison said.