WASHINGTON -- A $3.9 million municipal junk bond issue that was sold, insured, and resold a day later for $20.5 million appears to have been an arbitrage-driven deal designed to bail businessmen out of a financially troubled marina and reap huge profits for market participants, industry and federal officials said.

The parties to the June 13, 1989, issue and June 14 reoffering of the Marengo County, Ala., Port Authority bonds contend they did not violate tax laws or improperly benefit anyone. They said the bonds were issued to help the port authority save the ailing marina and were insured through a reoffering to protect bondholders against any losses.

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