Friday, October 15, 2004

Entangled in the net

Up near the top of the squaliformes food chain you will find AIG, Marsh and McKlennan and ACE ltd., (a division of Munich Re). In the latest NY Attorney General's swipe at the industry, bid rigging on insurance deals among the players has been found and guilty pleas obtained from at least two people directly involved.

But what most news accounts don't report is the fact that the CEO's of those three companies are rather closely related. Marsh & McLennan chief executive Jeff Greenberg and Evan Greenberg (president and chief executive of ACE), are the sons of AIG Chairman Hank Greenberg. Now there are some family phone conversations that would be interesting.

Marsh & McLennan also owns Kroll, the investigative company they bought earlier this year (which was originally bought by AIG in 1993), which also owns the credit and personal background data squaliforme Factual Data. Kroll operates as a world-wide private investigations and security firm. Some would go as far as calling Kroll's investigative arm a private CIA.

AIG isn't new to condemnation or intrigue. The PNC issue has come back to haunt them only three years after they set up structured finance deals that were the target of SEC scrutiny. (PNC sold off its mortgage business to WAMU in 2001).

Just one year ago they agreed to pay the SEC $10M for a fraudulent slush-fund-appearing-to-be-insurance deal for Brightpoint to make the company's income statements look better.

AIG's power and influence are almost unlimited. In this case, Spitzer may have finally bit off more than he can chew. If he persists in poking this particularly vicious and unprincipled squaliforme with his little bitty stick, I would expect to see some really nasty things about him mysteriously come out just prior to his run for governor, or federal preemptive legislation to limit the AG's power to investigate or prosecute insurance firms will be used to bring him to heel.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

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