AIG settles longstanding fraud cases for $1 billion

By Paul Smalera, senior editor

FORTUNE -- The Ohio Attorney General's office announced today that a class of three pension funds it represented in fraud complaints against AIG (AIG, Fortune 500) have settled with the federally-owned insurance giant for $725 million.

The statement reads in part, "The settlement resolves allegations of AIG's wide-ranging fraud from October 1999 to April 2005 involving anti-competitive market division, accounting violations and stock price manipulation, and brings total expected recovery for AIG shareholders to over $1 billion. The settlement is subject to court approval."

The case was the largest in a series of fraud claims against AIG. The Ohio Attorney General, Richard Cordray, has led the suits and previously announced the following settlements, according to the release:

  • a $72 million settlement with General Reinsurance Corporation
  • a $97.5 million settlement with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
  • a $115 million settlement with CEO Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg and other AIG executives (Howard I. Smith, Christian M. Milton and Michael J. Castelli) and related corporate entities (C.V. Starr & Co., Inc. and Starr International Co., Inc.)

Reuters, who first reported the settlement, noted that AIG may raise up to $550 million of the amount it owes through a stock offering, "or other means, including cash, when it decides it is commercially reasonable to make such an offering."

According to the Attorney General's statement, "This case involved three types of claims:

  • AIG engaged in accounting fraud, culminating in a $3.9 billion restatement in May 2005 that included numerous different types of transactions, including allegations relating to a $500 million no-risk fraudulent reinsurance transaction that AIG entered into with General Reinsurance Corp. in order to artificially boost AIG's reported claims reserves. One AIG executive and four Gen Re executives were found guilty of securities fraud in relation to that transaction.
  • AIG paid tens of millions of dollars in undisclosed contingent commissions to insurance brokers and participated in a bid-rigging scheme with insurance brokers and certain insurance companies in order to divide the market for certain types of insurance.
  • AIG engaged in straightforward stock price manipulation, in which company executives ordered company traders to inflate AIG stock price."

The settlement is "the first and only billion-dollar class action settlement since the financial crisis began to unfold in 2008."

Cordray has been notably active in pursuing securities crimes in his tenure as Attorney General. His office is keeping a running tally of their actions against AIG and other firms including Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Standard & Poor's, Moody's (MCO) and Fitch.

The company had no immediate statement on its website, but as required a notice has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. To top of page