Nationwide Seeks Damages from AXA Over PanEuroLife

February 19, 2002

Nationwide Holdings is seeking “substantial” damages from France’s AXA Group as a result of the money laundering scandal that affected PanEuroLife, a Luxembourg-based insurer which Nationwide acquired in 1998.

The exact allegations of the complaint, which was filed with the Commercial Court of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, have not been made public, but Nationwide’s grievance is no doubt related to the money laundering scandal that erupted last year. AXA’s founder and former CEO, Claude Bébéar, and his successor, Henri de Castries, were both held overnight on orders of a French judge investigating the case.

The scheme involved mid level employees of PanEuro, who have been accused of accepting a series of postal money orders from French residents without verifying their source, allowing them to purchase annuity policies, which could then be cashed in, or transferred to other investments, as part of a scheme to avoid paying taxes.

Although AXA controlled PanEuro for less than two years after it acquired its parent company, French insurer UAP, some of the activities are alleged to have occurred during that time.

While the case was highly publicized in France at the time, and PanEuro remains under investigation, little has been reported concerning it since last summer.

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