GLOBAL – Marsh & McLennan is being probed by the Securities and Exchange Commission about business referrals between its Mercer consulting arm and Putnam Investments asset management unit.

“MMC, Putnam and Mercer have been advised by the Boston Office of the SEC that it is conducting an informal investigation of a former program pursuant to which companies within the MMC group referred business to one another and received compensation for such referrals,” MMC said in a regulatory filing.

“In connection with this investigation, MMC, Putnam and Mercer have received requests for information from the SEC and are fully cooperating.”

Executives have stressed to IPE in the past that there is an “arm’s length” relationship between Putnam and Mercer. As former Putnam European chief Stephen Cohen put it in an interview in 2003: “We have to stand in line like everybody else.”

Mercer’s New York-based corporate spokesman Charles Salmans was not immediately available for comment.

MMC also disclosed various other regulatory matters in which it is involved. These included: Mercer’s services to the West Virginia Public Retirement System, and a subpoena from the Department of Labor relating to services to employee benefit plans.

It had also received a request from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. about the status of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. Retirement Plan.

And it also said it had received requests from the Department of Justice in connection with an industry-wide investigation about potential anti-competitive agreements in the actuarial consulting market.

MMC said: “Mercer has cooperated fully with this investigation and believes the matter is concluded.”