Bright Faces Trial for Fraud over Independent Collapse

December 19, 2005

Former U.K. insurance magnate Michael Bright appeared in court in London on Friday, Dec. 16 in connection with the 2001 collapse of Independent Insurance. He was granted bail, and a preliminary hearing was set for March 24, 2006.

Bright founded Independent in 1986 with the purchase of Allstate’s U.K. operations. At one time it was the U.K.’s second largest P/C insurer with a stock market valuation of around $1.75 billion. But following a surge in losses, Bright lost the confidence of key investors; he resigned in February 2001. The company failed to find additional backing, and subsequently went into liquidation. (See IJ Web site June18, 2001).

Investigations revealed a number of questionable dealings, including a £4 million ($5.6 million at the time) loan to Bright.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the provisional liquidators appointed to sort out the financial mess, uncovered £62 million ($87.8 million at the time) worth of insurance claims that were never entered into the company’s accounting systems.

The subsequent four-year investigation by the U.K.’s serious fraud office has now concluded that there is sufficient evidence against Bright to support charges of conspiracy to defraud. Former Independent deputy managing director Philip Condon and group finance director Dennis Lomas were also named in the indictment.

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