Monday, August 30, 2010

AIG Settlement Covers $60 Million of Ex-CEO, Ex-CFO Costs

Former longtime AIG chief Maurice ''Hank'' Greenberg and another former executive will get $60 million from the company's insurers to cover legal and other costs as part of a proposed settlement of investor lawsuits, court papers show.

The payouts to Greenberg and former Chief Financial Officer Howard Smith are in addition to $90 million that American International Group Inc.'s insurers, as previously reported, will pay directly to the company as part of the proposed settlement.

The $150 million of payouts were revealed in an Aug. 25 agreement filed in Delaware Chancery Court, and obtained Friday by Reuters.

They stem from litigation in which investors accused more than 20 onetime AIG executives and directors of poor oversight and allowing improper bonuses. The Delaware lawsuit was filed by investors on behalf of AIG.

Greenberg left AIG in March 2005 after nearly four decades at the helm.

AIG in November 2009 said it had resolved all litigation with Greenberg, and agreed to reimburse him and Smith for as much as $150 million of legal fees and expenses, according to an agreement filed with U.S. regulators.

The $60 million payout by insurers is separate from that agreement, and Greenberg and Smith represented in the earlier agreement that no one else other than the insurers was obligated to indemnify them for the relevant costs.

AIG had $200 million of insurance for directors and officers, the Delaware agreement shows. None of the sums being paid go to investors, and Greenberg and Smith are also not responsible to pay out money in connection with the agreement.

In emailed statements, AIG said it was pleased the matter has been resolved, as did Lee Wolosky, a partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP who represents Greenberg.

A lawyer who signed the Aug. 25 agreement on behalf of Smith did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The Delaware agreement requires approval of Vice Chancellor Leo Strine of the Delaware court. A settlement will be made final upon the dismissal of similar litigation in Manhattan federal court, the agreement shows.

Based in New York, AIG in September 2008 narrowly averted collapse after becoming overexposed to risky debt. It accepted a federal bailout that grew to $182.3 billion and left taxpayers owning a nearly 80 percent stake.

Six weeks ago, AIG agreed to pay $725 million to settle a shareholder class-action lawsuit led by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, who accused it of accounting fraud and trying to manipulate its stock price.

AIG still faces shareholder class-action litigation in Manhattan federal court. Greenberg has sought to dismiss a civil fraud lawsuit by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo over a sham reinsurance transaction.

The case is In re: American International Group Inc Derivative Litigation, Delaware Chancery Court, No. CA 769.

Stanford Execs Deny Key Role in Alleged Fraud Cited by Lloyd's

Lawyers for Texas financier Allen Stanford and two accounting executives who worked for him sought to distance their clients Friday from the alleged financial wrongdoing insurer Lloyd's of London cites as a reason to void a policy covering their defense fees.

"Mr. Stanford was not really a hands-on guy,'' Robert Bennett, Stanford's attorney, said during closing arguments after four days of hearings in federal court. "Mr. Stanford was not at the center of anything illegal or wrong.''

The nondisclosure of a nearly $2 billion unsecured loan to Stanford, misrepresentations to investors and phony accounting are all grounds to stop paying claims under a directors and officers policy, the British insurer said.

Stanford, accounting executives Mark Kuhrt and Gilbert Lopez and Chief Investment Officer Laura Holt have sued Lloyd's of London over payment of the fees. But that policy has a money laundering exclusion, so Lloyd's must prove to U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas in Houston that the plaintiffs committed that act.

Holt struck a deal with the insurer before the start of the hearings last Tuesday. She and the three other plaintiffs in this case are accused of participating in an alleged $7 billion Ponzi scheme centered around fraudulent certificates of deposit (CDs) issued by Stanford's offshore bank in Antigua.

"It is clear that the money collected for the CDs was criminal property as defined by the policy,'' said Barry Chasnoff, an attorney for Lloyd's. "There was no evidence offered to the contrary.''


Lawyers for Stanford and the accounting executives have placed a lot of the blame on James Davis, the former chief financial officer of Stanford International Bank Ltd. (SIB) who pleaded guilty last August to three felony counts related to the scheme.

Davis had the final sign-off on numerous financial documents from SIB, the institution the government claims is at the center of the alleged scheme, lawyers and witnesses said.

"I believe that Mr. Kuhrt and Mr. Lopez were middle-level accounting managers and it was Mr. Davis' responsibility to deal with the auditors on these issues,'' Alan Westheimer, an accountant hired by Kuhrt and Lopez as an expert witness, testified.

Stanford also relied on Davis -- his former No. 2 man at the company and former classmate from Baylor University -- as well as on the professional advice of accountants and lawyers, Bennett told the hearing.

Still, Atlas told the hearing it was clear to her that Lopez and Kuhrt "were close to the top,'' and were close to Davis.

She said she had a suspicion that Lloyd's would not be fronting legal fees to the men after the hearings.

Lloyd's has advanced as much at $6 million to pay for Stanford's attorneys, many of whom have left the case or been fired by their client.

Stanford, who is 60 and is in jail awaiting a January trial, faces one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering as part of a 21-count June 2009 indictment.

The hearings were seen as a preview of Stanford's criminal case. Many people involved in the case, including Stanford and Lopez, invoked their Fifth Amendment right and did not testify, so much evidence centered on documents that are part of the government's civil and criminal case.

The case is Laura Pendergest-Holt, R. Allen Stanford, Gilbert Lopez and Mark Kuhrt v Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London and Arch Specialty Insurance Co, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, No. 09-3712.

Earl Now Major Hurricane, Headed Toward East Coast

Hurricane Earl has strengthened into a major Category 3 storm Monday and could arrive off the East Coast of the U.S. by the end of this week.

It is currently rocking the Caribbean's Northern Leeward Islands.

The National Hurricane Center said Earl is now the second major hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic season, with winds up to 120 miles per hour .

Hurricane warnings are in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, Anguilla, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, the British and the U.S. Virgin islands.

A hurricane watch is also in effect for Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Danielle has moved into the North Atlantic and is now more of a threat to Iceland than the U.S.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Florida Orders Halt to Sale of Warranty Products

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty today announced the Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) has issued an order to Auto Repair Warranty Inc. (ARW), Auto Repair Group LLC (ARG) and Michael R. Petruziello to Cease and Desist selling unauthorized motor vehicle service agreements in Florida.

Office investigators concluded that the aforementioned companies sold unauthorized and unlicensed motor vehicle service agreements through its website and through agreements sold by ARW. In addition, investigators concluded that the companies engaged in unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts.

Both companies are based in Ohio. Office records indicate ARW and ARG have never been authorized to sell warranty products in the State of Florida.

"Companies selling insurance products of any kind must adhere to Florida's stringent licensing process," said Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. "Floridians should always verify the products they purchase are being offered by companies licensed in our state."