Five former insurance executives with General Reinsurance and American International Group were found guilty by a federal jury today of all charges stemming from an alleged phony reinsurance deal that helped AIG improve its financial picture.
The defendants and their families showed no reaction as the jury read the verdict in U.S. District Court here. The 5 were convicted of 16 counts arising from a conspiracy to create a sham finite reinsurance arrangement that helped artificially inflate AIG loss reserves by $500 million in the fourth quarter of 2000 and first quarter of 2001.
Defense lawyers said there would be an appeal.
On trial were Ronald Ferguson, former chief executive of General Reinsurance, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary; Christopher Garand, a former Gen Re senior vice president; Robert Graham, Gen Re’s former senior vice president and counsel; Elizabeth Monrad, Gen Re’s former chief financial officer; and Christian Milton, former AIG vice president for reinsurance.
None of the defendants took the stand. Their defense consisted of an attack on the credibility of prosecution witnesses and a number of character witnesses.
The jury of 9 men and 3 women spent 7 days on deliberations after 23 days of trial. The defendants were convicted of conspiracy, securities fraud, making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission and mail fraud.
“This is a very sad day not only for Robert Ferguson, but for our criminal justice system,” said Clifford Schoenberg, an attorney for Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in New York, representing Ferguson. “The nightmare Ron has been forced to endure these past few tortuous weeks continues. We can only hope that Judge [Christopher] Droney or the Court of Appeals will reverse this grave miscarriage of justice.”
During the trial, Ferguson’s defense argued that he would not have taken part in a criminal enterprise that could endanger an unblemished 30-year career.
Attorney Anthony Pacheco, representing Garand, said: “Understandably, Mr. Garand is disappointed by the jury’s verdict. Although this is a major hurdle, we will aggressively pursue all of Mr. Garand’s rights on appeal. We expect that the Appellate Court will fully vindicate Mr. Garand of all of these government charges.”
Fred Hafetz, the attorney for Milton, vowed to appeal, citing “issues of fairness” about having his client heard along with the other defendants. During the trial,. Hafetz sought to have Milton’s case separated from the others, but Judge Droney refused.
Federal prosecutors said the verdict sends a strong message that involvement in financial fraud schemes will not be tolerated.