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Feds Indict 4 In Life Settlement Investment Case

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A U.S. district attorney in Florida has indicted 4 men in connection with allegations of mail fraud, wire fraud and other charges stemming from the 2004 failure of a life settlement company.

The indictments also charge the defendants — Joel Steinger, Steven Steiner, Michael McNerney and Anthony Livoti Jr. – with conspiracy and money laundering and other offenses stemming from their involvement with the company, Mutual Benefits Corp., Fort Lauderdale.

Investigators say Mutual Benefits raised about $1.3 billion from about 30,000 investors before federal regulators shut it down in May 2004.

A federal court placed Mutual Benefits in receivership in 2004, after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation investigated allegations that the firm had committed fraud.

Defendants McNerney and Livoti appeared before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida earlier this week, according to Eric Bustillo, acting U.S. attorney for the district.

Steinger and Steiner are expected to make their initial appearances in court later this week, Bustillo says.

Federal officials have accused the defendants of costing 28,000 investors about $837 million, according to the indictment.

Mutual Benefits sold viatical and life settlement investments through an international network of sales agents, according to the indictment.

Officials allege in the indictment that Mutual Benefits’ sales agents and marketing materials promised investors “safe” investments in “secure” life insurance policies.

The viatical and life settlement investment vehicles exposed investors to undisclosed risks, Bustillo says.

Mutual Benefits bought policies that could not be re-sold, pressed doctors to provide false life expectancy figures, and mismanaged premium funds, Bustillo alleges.