A North Carolina life insurance company founder is rejecting federal prosecutor allegations that he tried to bribe the state’s insurance commissioner, Mike Causey.
Greg Lindberg — the owner of Global Bankers Insurance Group of Durham, North Carolina — says he was simply trying to get the North Carolina Department of Insurance to give Global Bankers another examiner, because he felt the examiner was badmouthing him, not trying to secure any particular outcome.
(Related: Global Bankers Companies Face Turbulence)
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that, under federal law, bribery must involve an official act that benefits the payer, Lindberg says in a memorandum supporting his motion for dismissal of the indictment.
“This is not a case where a financially unstable company receives a regulatory pass in exchange for campaign donations,” according to the memorandum. “Rather, Mr. Lindberg was exercising his right to engage in political speech, to advocate for a robust yet fair regulatory environment for his company.”
North Carolina elects its insurance commissioners.
In 2016, Lindberg supported Wayne Goodwin, Causey’s opponent, and he helped Goodwin sponsor negative ad campaigns against Causey.
Lindberg says that, in 2017, when Causey became commissioner, and he asked Causey for a new examiner for Global Bankers, Causey brought up the topic of campaign contributions.
“No periodic examinations of Mr. Lindberg’s company were pending when Mr. Lindberg acquiesced to the commissioner’s demands,” according to Lindberg’s memorandum.
“Critically, the indictment nowhere alleges that Mr. Lindberg sought a particular outcome on the Department’s past or future periodic examinations of Global Bankers Insurance Group,” according to the memorandum.
Causey began cooperating with the FBI around the time he was talking to Lindberg about the examiner switch. Causey recorded his conversations with Lindberg.
The recording shows that Lindberg told Causey he was not asking Causey for any special treatment, according to Lindberg’s memorandum.
“‘We are willing to submit ourselves to tighter standards than the law allows,’ ” Lindberg told Causey, according to Lindberg’s description of the recording.
“ Mr. Lindberg sought fairness, not favoritism,” according to Lindberg’s memorandum. “He is not averse to tough regulation, and he told the commissioner as much; he takes issue only with the unfair and retaliatory use of regulatory oversight.”
— Read Life Insurance Company Owner Faces Wall Street Journal Scrutiny, on ThinkAdvisor.