Refco Inc., the futures broker that removed chairman and chief executive Phillip R. Bennett this week after discovering that a company he controlled owed Refco $430 million, is the target of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, according to published reports.

Shares of Refco, which went public this summer, fell dramatically after a trading halt on the stock was lifted. The company was also named in a shareholder lawsuit by Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP that will seek class-action status.

In a statement, Refco said that it had voluntarily contacted the SEC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the New York Stock Exchange and other regulators, and is cooperating fully with them.The stock's plunge cost Refco's biggest shareholder, buyout firm Thomas H. Lee Partners LLP, up to $721 million, though the stock price remains almost 90 percent ahead compared with its initial investment in August 2004 when Refco was private. Other major investors include General Motors' retirement funds and New York State's pension system.

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