La. Insurance Department Subpoenaed in Citizens Fraud Probe

November 14, 2007

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said his office received a subpoena for e-mails from Louisiana’s taxpayer-backed property insurance company and that his staff was working on its court challenge of the subpoena.

Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot wants the e-mails and other documents as part of his probe into alleged fraud and misspending at the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state’s insurer of last resort.

Donelon has turned over thousands of e-mails but has blocked Theriot from others that he says include proprietary information about private insurance firms. Donelon said he is legally bound to keep those e-mails secret because they have statistics about the companies’ market share that are protected by confidentiality agreements.

Donelon told the Press Club of Baton Rouge that insurance department lawyers would file their court challenge of the subpoena Nov. 13.

An audit by Theriot’s office said Citizens may have misspent over $1 million in 2004-05 and accused the former chief executive, Terry Lisotta, of using company money for personal expenses on business trips to Bermuda and Florida, plus fishing and hunting trips.

The audit examined a fraction of the $1 million, and Theriot’s office is investigating how the rest of the cash was spent. Lisotta, who has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors, has refused to answer questions about the audit, citing his 5th Amendment right to avoid incriminating himself.

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