Executive Life Insurance Jury Back to Work July 12

June 14, 2005

According to The Los Angeles Times, the jury in the long-running Executive Life Insurance Co. court case will reconvene Tuesday, July 12 to start deliberating whether damages should be paid in connection with the failure of the insurer.

U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz will bring the jury back to downtown Los Angeles next month following the failure of settlement talks between California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and French billionaire Francois Pinault. Jurors gave Pinault clearance of wrongdoing in May.

The jurors did find that his company, Paris-based Artemis, worked together with a subsidiary of French bank Credit Lyonnais and other investors to defraud California regulators.

The jury said that Artemis’ actions resulted in harm to Executive Life policyholders.

Monetary damages, however, against Artemis, if any, will likely to be minimal, based on an order issued recently by Matz.

During the trial, Garamendi’s attorneys said that the commissioner would not have sold the bonds to the investors, led by Credit Lyonnais, if he knew that the buyers were using a secret “fronting” agreement involving intermediary companies.

Garamendi reported he would have sold the Los Angeles-based insurer and the bonds to the National Organization of Life and Health Guaranty Assns., an insurance industry group that pays claims on failed insurers like Executive Life.

In his order, the judge specifically prohibited Garamendi from claiming damages based upon his Guaranty Assns. premise.

If awarded, damages may be in the range of $75 million, according to Matz’s order. Four months ago, Credit Lyonnais and other French defendants settled their part of the case for $600 million.

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