Ex-Marsh Executives’ Bid-Rigging Convictions Tossed on New Evidence

By | July 7, 2010

A New York judge has thrown out the convictions of two former Marsh & McLennan Cos. executives for their roles in an insurance bid-rigging scheme that led to an $850 million settlement with the state.

The defendants William Gilman and Edward McNenney had each been found guilty in February 2008 on one count of restraining trade, a felony antitrust charge, after a 10-month bench trial before New York State Supreme Court Justice James Yates. The other 36 charges were dismissed or ended in acquittal.

But in a July 2 decision, Yates reversed the conviction, citing newly discovered contradictory statements made by witnesses who cooperated with prosecutors, and the suppression of documents that would have been “invaluable” to the defense.

“The case was, from the outset, a circumstantial case,” Yates wrote in a 25-page ruling. The additional evidence, he said, “undermines the court’s confidence in the verdict.”

Gilman had been an executive marketing director in the Marsh Inc. brokerage unit who negotiated revenue-sharing agreements with insurance carriers, while McNenney was a Marsh global placement director.

Yates’ latest decision is a setback for New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose predecessor Eliot Spitzer in 2004 began an industrywide insurance probe into the alleged steering of clients to favored insurers in exchange for kickbacks.

Last October, Yates acquitted three other Marsh executives, who like Gilman and McNenney were indicted in Sept. 2005 and whose cases were tried by Cuomo’s office.

A Cuomo spokesman said the attorney general’s office is reviewing Yates’ decision and contemplating an appeal.

Richard Spinogatti, a lawyer at Proskauer Rose LLP who represented Gilman, said: “We’re very, very pleased with Justice Yates’ analysis and decision.” He said Gilman is now retired.

A lawyer for McNenney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Spitzer accused the indicted Marsh executives of colluding with American International Group Inc., units of Ace Ltd and Zurich Financial Services AG, Liberty International Insurance Co. and others to rig the excess casualty insurance market from November 1998 to September 2004.

Marsh & McLennan agreed in January 2005 to pay $850 million to settle related civil charges by Spitzer and to end improper bid-rigging, three months after the New York-based company ousted Chief Executive Jeffrey Greenberg.

Twenty-one executives from Marsh and insurance carriers have pleaded guilty to various charges in the probe and agreed to cooperate with investigators, Yates said.

Cuomo, a Democrat, is the front-runner to become New York’s next governor when an election is held in November.

The case is: New York v. Gilman et al, New York State Supreme Court, County of New York, No. 04800-2009.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, Joan Gralla, Karina Ioffee and Grand McCool, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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